Bihar Encephalitis Deaths Reach 73, Minister To Visit Today: 10 Points

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the Centre is constantly monitoring the situation and supporting the state health authorities in managing the crisis.

Bihar Encephalitis Deaths Reach 73, Minister To Visit Today: 10 Points

The number of casualties due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome rose to 73 on Saturday (File)

New Delhi:  Acute Encephalitis Syndrome has claimed the lives of 6 more children in Bihar on Saturday as the state grapples with the deadly disease. The number of deaths in Muzaffarpur now stands at 73 this month. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan will visit Muzaffarpur today to take stock of the situation. The state health department had cited hypoglycemia, a condition caused by very low level of blood sugar, as the main reason for the deaths. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had said earlier this week that there is a lack of information and awareness among the people on how to tackle the disease.
Here are the top 10 points in this big story:
  1. In the last two weeks, 67 children died in Muzaffarpur due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome. On Saturday, the number of casualties rose to 73. According to officials, 62 children have died in the state-run Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) while 11 children died at the Kejriwal Children Home, a private hospital. Around 61 children have been admitted on Saturday in these two hospitals while 93 others are still being treated.
  2. Health minister Harsh Vardhan said the Centre is constantly monitoring the situation and supporting the state health authorities in managing the crisis. "While the Centre is extending all support to the state for the containment and management of the recent surge of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) and Japanese Encephalitis (JE) cases, I shall be going to Muzaffarpur tomorrow to take stock and review the situation at the site with the state government," he said.
  3. During his visit today, the minister will interact with the multi-disciplinary teams deployed there and address a state-level review meeting."I shall discuss the management measures being recommended by the high level expert team of the Centre, and support that can be extended through National Health Mission (NHM) for health systems strengthening, and other Ministries of the Central government including the Ministry of Women and Child Development as part of the immediate and long term measures," he stated.
  4. Harsh Vardhan also met Mangal Pandey, Health Minister of Bihar, on two occasions recently and discussed the reported rise in cases of AES from Muzaffarpur and JE from Gaya in Bihar, and public health measures for their containment. The state health minister said a team of professors, senior and junior doctors are taking stock of the situation and looking after the children.
  5. The state health department in a press release said maximum deaths have occurred this year due to Hypoglycemia resulting from high heat, humidity and no rains. The department advised parents to not let their children play in open sun, or allow them to go to bed empty stomach. Give them a glass of lime water with sugar or ORS also at bed time to avoid hypoglycemia, it said.
  6. The department has ordered for distribution of ORS packets among the children so that they can take it before going to bed, he said, adding that it would maintain blood sugar level in the children. The deaths have taken place especially in malnourished children and also in poor and impoverished families.
  7. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expressed condolences over the children's deaths in Muzaffarpur. "I am very pained with the children's deaths in Muzaffarpur. We are very hurt and pained. The Health Department has sent its team to Muzaffarpur which would take stock of the measures being taken to tackle the disease," he said.
  8. The Health Department principal secretary said the disease has affected 222 blocks of 12 districts, especially Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Sheohar and East Champaran. Nitish Kumar asked people to take their children to their nearest Primary Health Centre (PHC) as all PHCs have been equipped with all the facilities. The department has made seven paediatric ICUs functional in the state to tackle the disease.
  9. District Magistrate of Muzaffarpur on Friday said that for students till class eight, schools will remain closed till June 22 and for students in higher standards, classes will be held only till 10.30 am.
  10. Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES), a viral infection, is a bunch of diseases that include hypoglycemia, dyselectrolytemia, chicken pox, Japanese Encephalitis positive and AES unknown. AES outbreaks are routine in areas in and around Muzaffarpur during summer, and mostly affects children below 15 years of age.

(With inputs from agencies)

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