Patna: The death toll due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur has risen to 108; striking panic among the top authorities.
AES is a viral disease, which causes mild flu-like symptoms such as high fever, convulsions, and headaches. The symptoms of AES also include an extremely low level of sugar in the blood. Among the factors said to trigger the syndrome are malnutrition. Moreover, the litchi grown in Muzaffarpur is said to contain a toxin which can cause a drop in blood sugar levels if consumed by a malnourished child.
Earlier, the Nipah outbreak in Kerala had embedded the same impact on the nation’s medical fraternity.
Here are some updates of the AES outbreak from Bihar:
108 lives lost
As many as 89 children have died in Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH), while 19 others lost their lives in Kejriwal Hospital.
The Chief Minister had recently announced an ex gratia of Rs 4 lakh each to the families of the children, who died due to AES in the city.
He had also given directions to the Health Department, district administration and doctors to take necessary measures to fight the disease.
Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan to set up permanent multi-disciplinary group to look into AES cases
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan decided to constitute a permanent multi-disciplinary group of experts at the Centre to monitor and formulate measures to be taken up in the event of such an outbreak.
The central group will comprise experts from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), World Health Organisation (WHO), Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Women and Child Development along with experts of meteorology, nutrition and agricultural science.
“We discussed the socio-economic profile of the households which have reported such cases, their nutrition profiles, ongoing heatwave, reported high percentage of hypoglycemia in children who have died, prevailing health infrastructure in the district and other factors that could significantly be considered in these cases,” the minister said.
Senior officers from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Women and Child Development, experts from AIIMS, NCDC, ICMR, Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP), WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were present at the meeting.
“In the spirit of collaborative and cooperative federalism, the Centre is actively supporting the Bihar government in immediate measures to contain AES/JE and also to search for long term solutions through evidence generated by sound research.
“Two central multi-disciplinary teams are already stationed in Bihar and supporting the government presently. Senior officers of the Union Health Ministry are in regular communication with the state government and providing all needed technical and other support,” Vardhan assured.
The Health Minister said the permanent multi-disciplinary expert group will meet regularly during the year to monitor recommendations of the two central expert teams presently stationed in Muzaffarpur and deliberate upon their findings and suggestions received from other experts in the matter.
“This group shall formulate recommendations for measures to be taken up in case of an outbreak and for immediate control, in addition to a long term understanding about its causes so as to prevent the cases,” he said.