Suspected brain disease kills 51 kids in Bihar

Greater Kashmir

Patna, Oct 1: Suspected encephalitis, a brain fever, has killed 51 children in Bihar’s Gaya district in the last seven weeks, with three more kids succumbing to the disease Friday, an official said Saturday.
 “Three more children died on Friday,” an official said. Most of the children belong to Mahadalit families, among the poorest of the poor.
 According to district health officials, all children have died at Anugrah Narain Medical College and Hospital (ANMCH) in Gaya, about 100 km from Patna. The children reported high fever, followed by bouts of unconsciousness and convulsions.
 An official of the hospital said that till date, more than 220 children with suspected encephalitis were admitted for treatment. “Most of the children were from rural areas of Gaya and neighbouring districts,” he said.
 “Over two dozen children are still battling for life,” he said.
 Bihar Health Minister Ashwani Kumar Choubey told IANS that the government has alerted health officials to provide medical treatment to all the affected.
 “After I visited the hospital last month, I had directed the officials to take measures to check the spread of the disease,” Choubey said.
 He added that the government had already carried out intensive spraying of insecticide DDT to kill mosquitoes, which are responsible for the suspected disease.
 However, an official of the hospital said that lack of doctors and medicines was proving costly.
 “Inadequate doctors and non-availability of medicines are the real problems,” he said.
 ANMCH superintendent Sitaram Prasad said the government has employed several medical teams to control the disease.
 “We are doing our best to treat and save the children,” he said.
 A district administration official said that suspected encephalitis hit Gaya in 2009, 2007 and 2005 and killed dozens of children.
 Two months ago, 55 children died in Muzaffarpur district but the state government is yet to confirm these as encephalitis deaths.
 Last month, union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad informed the Rajya Sabha that data suggested that it was an outbreak of acute encephalitis syndrome, resulting in 150 cases and 55 deaths, mostly among children.
 In a written reply, the minister said these cases were reported from early June to mid-July from Muzaffarpur and its bordering areas in Bihar. IANS