Bihar encephalitis deaths: Death toll touches 129
Patna, June 23: Death toll due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) rose to 129 in Muzaffarpur. 109 deaths at SKMCH & 20 deaths at Kejriwal hospital. Hospital authorities said they were looking into the case to ascertain whether the bones belonged to humans or animals.
The Bihar health department had on June 20 released state-wide figures putting the total toll following the outbreak, which has spread across 16 districts, at 136.
Hundreds of children are admitted to hospitals -- mostly at Muzaffarpur's SKMCH and privately-owned Kejriwal hospital -- for treatment of AES which is characterized by sudden onset of high fever and convulsions.
The high number of deaths this year has been blamed on hypoglycemia or sudden drop in blood sugar levels, which some experts attribute to malnutrition and consumption of unripe litchi -- a fruit grown in abundance in north Bihar -- on an empty stomach and failure to administer glucose within four hours of the onset of fever and other symptoms.
The epicentre is Muzaffarpur district, which also happens to be a hub for litchis that ripen in the summer - just when the dreaded disease spikes every year.
Meanwhile, Sixteen children have died over the past month and a half while under treatment at Gorakhpur's Baba Raghav Das Medical College for encephalitis.
A report sent to the health directorate in Lucknow said the patients who died were suffering either from Japanese Encephalitis (JE) or acute encephalitis syndrome (AES), an affliction that has already killed close to 129 children in neighbouring Bihar.
What is Acute Encephalitis Syndrome?
Recognised as AES, it is a neurological disorder which affects the brain and the limbic system when a specific strain of virus or a bacteria attacks the body.
In the recent case, the virus found in the lychee fruit entered the body and attacked the immune system as well as the brain. Since the disease majorly inflames the vessels in the brain, it is also known as brain fever.
How does this spread?
Just like other viral strains, AES spreads through contaminated surfaces. Once infected the patient can infect more individuals through their secretions and saliva.