The death count of children in Bihar due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome has risen to 73 on Saturday. Of the total causalities, 62 children have died in state-run Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) in Muzaffarpur, and 11 in a private hospital Kejriwal Children Home. The disease, locally called "chamki bukhar", killed four more children on Saturday, while 63 others were admitted in SKMCH and the Kejriwal Children Home, where 93 children are still undergoing treatment.
Since June 1, 197 children have been admitted to SKMCH while 91 were admitted to Kejriwal Hospital with suspected Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES), but most of them were found to be victims of hypoglycemia. The condition of six children undergoing treatment at each of the two hospitals is stated to be critical.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Harsh Vardhan is scheduled to visit Muzaffarpur on Sunday to take stock of the situation. Union minister and Bihar BJP chief Nityanand Rai, during his first visit to the state after being sworn in as MoS Home, went straight to Muzaffarpur from Patna airport, cancelling all felicitation programmes.
“It is a painful period for all of us. This unknown disease has taken a heavy toll this year,” Rai told reporters after visiting the SKMCH where he spoke to patients and their relatives. He also said that the BJP will not organise any programme to welcome anyone for two weeks.
In the last two years, the number of deaths was around two or four, Rai said, adding the Centre and the state governments have taken requisite preventive measures and so far 69 children, affected with the disease, have been discharged from the two hospitals.
The Union Minister said a team from Norway has arrived to ascertain the reasons behind the deaths of children while samples were sent to a laboratory in Pune. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had earlier advised parents not to let their children sleep or have litchi on empty stomach, as a preventive measure.
He has already directed the officials concerned to ensure that preventive measures were taken in affected districts, though deaths have so far been reported from Muzaffarpur only. Health Department’s Principal Secretary Sanjay Kumar had earlier said the disease has affected 222 blocks of 12 districts especially Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Sheohar and East Champaran.
(With PTI inputs)