Encephalitis kills 21, affects 200 in Bangladesh

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DHAKA, Nov 11 (Reuters) Encephalitis disorder has killed 21 people, mostly children, and affected some 200 others at a remote part of Bangladesh over the past week, health officials said today.

But they said they were yet to confirm what caused the disease.

At least 30 people are still in hospitals, with fever and vomiting.

The authorities employed several medical teams to control the disease, which was earlier branded as a mystery illness when it first broke out at Goainghat near Sylhet town, 350 km (219 miles) northeast of the capital Dhaka.

''The preliminary diagnosis revealed that it (disease) was a type of encephalitis, inflammation of the brain,'' Mahmudur Rahman, head of a diagnostic team told Reuters.

Rahman said the patients were severely malnourished, with limited physical resistance against the disease. He however could not say why the patients were so malnourished.

He said Bangladesh's International Epidemiology Research Centre was closely working with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States to determine which bacteria or virus had caused the disease.

Encephalitis killed 23 people and infected dozens in Bangladesh in 2004. Before the diagnosis, many feared that the disease was bird flu.

Bird flu in Bangladesh has forced authorities to cull nearly 268,000 chickens and destroy nearly three million eggs since March this year.

Authorities said there was no case of human infection.

REUTERS KK RAI1812

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