Acute Encephalitis Syndrome has claimed the lives of 100 children in Bihar's Muzaffarpur in the last 16 days. Nearly 300 children have been admitted to the Intensive Care Units of the two local hospitals. According to official data, 83 children have died at Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH), while 17 have lost their lives in Kejriwal Hospital in the city.
Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) is a viral disease that causes mild flu-like symptoms such as high fever, convulsions and headaches. The state health department has cited hypoglycemia, a condition caused by very low level of blood sugar, as one of the main reasons for the deaths.
Dr SK Shahi, the Medical Superintendent at SKMC, told NDTV that only monsoon can bring respite from the deadly disease.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan visited Muzaffarpur on Sunday to take stock of the situation. After his review, the minister said he had talked to "every concerned individual about this issue".
"Despite all problems and considering the seriousness of this disease, I appreciate the efforts put in by the doctors to ensure efficient treatment to everyone," he added.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar earlier expressed grief over the deaths and announced "an ex gratia payment of Rs. 4 lakh to the next of the kin of those who have died". The Chief Minister also said there is a lack of awareness on how to tackle this disease.
Bihar health officials have also been struggling with a heatwave that killed over 40 people on Saturday. Most of those deaths were reported from Aurangabad, Gaya and Nawada, with 27 dying in Aurangabad alone.
Dr Surendra Prasad Singh, a doctor at one of Aurangabad's state-run hospital, said number of deaths in the district is likely to rise.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan called the deaths in Gaya "unfortunate" and advised people against leaving their homes during peak hours
The country is witnessing its worst heatwave this year with four cities in north India on a record high. Delhi, Churu in Rajasthan and Banda and Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh have witnessed temperatures of 48 degrees Celsius and above.
A heat wave is declared when temperature remains at 45 degrees Celsius and above for two days running. It gets a "severe" tag when mercury touches 47 degrees.