Four more deaths due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) was recorded in Bihar's Muzaffarpur on Thursday, taking the total number of children affected by the disease this month to 47. Till Wednesday, the total number of casualties was 43, although a top state health official maintained that the deaths were caused by hypoglycemia rather than by the recent encephalitis outbreak in the city. While Encephalitis causes severe headache and irritation due to infection, Hypoglycemia leads to low level of sugar in the blood or deficiency of sodium or potassium in the body.
According to Dr Shailesh Prasad Singh, Civil Surgeon, Muzaffarpur, "Death toll rises to 47 due to acute encephalitis syndrome (AES)". Muzaffarpur is reeling under an outbreak of brain fever, with as many as 121 cases of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) reported since June 1.
Meanwhile, the state's Director-in-Chief (disease control) RD Ranjan visited the town, heading a team of Health Department officials sent from the Bihar capital, to take stock of the situation.
In Patna, Principal Secretary (Health) Sanjay Kumar said, "We have received instructions from the chief minister to ensure that preventive measures were taken in the 12 affected districts, though deaths have so far been reported from only Muzaffarpur."
"Stern action will be taken against officials who are found to be lax in ensuring distribution of oral rehydration solution and spreading of awareness regarding preventive steps," Kumar added.
In the wake of this grave situation, a multi-specialist high-level team, constituted by the Centre, on Wednesday visited Bihar in order 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.
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, who reviewed the status of AES and JE cases in Bihar on Tuesday, said the Health Ministry is coordinating with the Ministry of Women and Child Union Development for distribution of nutritious food with glucose in meals to prevent development of AES.
(With inputs from agencies)