What is Encephalitis? Here's an explainer on what makes Bihar so vulnerable?
Patna, July 04: As many as 153 children have died due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) while 720 such cases have been reported in Bihar. This syndrome is locally known as Chamki Bukhar.
Following Chief Minister's directive to this effect, the Muzaffarpur district administration has initiated an investigation into the case of 672 children who were admitted with AES.
AES has affected 222 blocks in 12 districts, Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Sheohar and East Champaran being the worst hit.
What is Encephalitis: Symptoms and Causes
Acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) is characterized by an acute onset of fever and clinical neurological manifestation that includes mental confusion, disorientation, delirium, or coma.
Apart from viral encephalitis, severe form of leptospirosis and toxoplasmosis can cause AES. Keeping in mind the wide range of causal agents and the rapid rate of neurological impairment due to pathogenesis, clinicians face the challenge of a small window period between diagnosis and treatment.
What is the history of AES in this region?
The history of AES in India has paralleled with that of the Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) since the first report in 1955 from Vellore, Tamil Nadu. The first outbreak of JEV was reported in Bankura district, West Bengal in 1973. Thereafter, sporadic cases of AES and outbreaks have been the leading cause of premature deaths due to the disease in India.
What makes this Bihar so vulnerable?
Malnutrition is high in both states, and malnourished children are prone to infection.
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare data show UP and Bihar together account for over 35% of child deaths in country. National Family Health Survey-4 data show that in 2015-16, 48% children aged less than five in Bihar were stunted - the highest in India.