PATNA – At least 53 children have died in the last 10 days and 36 alone in the past 48 hours due to suspected Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Bihar. However, the state health department says only 11 deaths had occurred due to AES.
The doctors said many of the deaths were due to Hypoglycemia, a condition caused by very low level of blood sugar.
“There’s proper research required, but 90 per cent cases are due to hypoglycemia,” said Dr SK Sahi, Medical Superintendent at the Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital in the district.
Official figures put the number of reported AES cases this year at 48, up from 40 reported cases last year.
The state government has directed concerned officials to control the situation. Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey also stated that most deaths were caused due to hypoglycaemia (loss of sugar in the blood) and only one child died of Japanese Encephalitis (JE).
Principal Health Secretary Sanjay Kumar, on the other hand, said that 11 children died of AES this year. One death each was reported in April and May and nine were reported in the first week of June due to hypoglycaemia. He informed that till date 27 cases of AES and JE have come to light.
According to Health Department officials, after reports of more deaths of children from AES, the state government has introduced the verbal autopsy form to fix responsibility of lapses in treatment and referral. “We have a standard operating procedure for the treatment of AES,” said an official.
The Health Department has also issued an advisory urging parents to prevent their children from playing under the sun when the temperature is hovering between 42 to 43 degree Celsius.
Acute Encephalitis Syndrome is a severe case of encephalitis transmitted by mosquitoes. It is characterised by high fever and inflammation of the brain.
AES outbreaks are a routine in summer in areas in and around flood-prone north Bihar districts, where the disease is locally known as “Chamki Bukhar” or “Mastishk Bukhar”. The epidemic mostly affects children from poor families, below 10 years of age.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said the Health Department was keeping a close watch and had directed people about the preventive measures. “Ahead of rains (monsoon), every year this disease creates havoc. It is a matter of concern that every year children die due to it.”
“It seems that in the last two years there was drop in the number of cases, but this time it has hit once again. The awareness campaign was not done properly,” Kumar said on Monday.
The Centre has constituted a multi-specialist high-level team which will visit Bihar on Wednesday to assist the state government in containment and management of the rising cases of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Muzaffarpur and Japanese Encephalitis (JE) in Gaya.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, who reviewed the status of AES and JE cases in Bihar Tuesday, said he met state Health Minister Mangal Pandey recently and assured him of full support and assistance by the Centre.