Why are 100s of Children in Bihar's Muzaffarpur dying?

Over 100s of Children in Bihar's Muzaffarpur have died since last 15 days due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES). But, what is Encephalitis and why are children dying due to it? Here is all you need to know about this syndrome.

103 children in Bihar died due to Encephalitis, Image Credits: The Indian Express
According to a release issued by the district administration of Muzaffarpur, a total of 103 deaths were reported due to Encephalitis (which is locally being called as 'Chamki'), in which 85 deaths were reported from Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH), while 18 were reported from Kejriwal hospital.

While the doctors have confirmed that the deaths were occurred due to AES. The state officials declared that most of the victims were below the age of 10, who have fallen prey to hypoglycemia, a condition which is caused by a low level of blood sugar and electrolyte imbalance due to high temperatures and extreme humidity.

Yesterday, one more child died at the Kejriwal hospital and five children died at SKMCH hospital, while the condition of 12 patients at both the hospitals was stated to be critical, the release said.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar on Sunday, announced an ex gratia payment of Rs 4 lakh to the families of each of the deceased. He guided the health department, district administration and doctors to take necessary measures to fight the disease.

Bihar's Health Minister, Mangal Pandey spoke exclusively to Mail Today and stated that his government are doing everything possible to hold the crisis. He also rejected the allegations that were made about the state government that they were found napping as the tragedy struck.

What actually is Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES)?

Acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) is a viral infection, which caused a serious public health problem in India since last few months. It is characterized as acute-onset of fever and a change in mental status (mental confusion, disorientation, delirium, or coma) and is caused mostly to children and young adults.

It is caused by hypoglycemia, which leads to an abnormally low level of sugar in the blood or deficiency of sodium or potassium in the body.

It was observed mostly during the period of April to June particularly in children who are undernourished with a history of visiting litchi orchards. 

Causative agents: 

Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is the major cause of AES in India (which ranges from 5-35%). Nipah virus, Zika virus are also found as the agents for AES.

Also Read: "How Many Wickets down?": Asks Bihar's Health Minister, Mangal Pandey, in A Meeting On Child Deaths

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