100 Children Die From Encephalitis Outbreak In Bihar’s Muzzafurpur

Acute Encephalitis Syndrome causes mild flu-like symptoms such as high fever, convulsions and headaches

Patna, Bihar:

The death toll from the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome outbreak in Bihar has risen to 100, with the disease killing 83 children at the Sri Krishna Medical College in Muzzafurpur alone. A further 17 died at the city's Kejriwal Hospital.

At least 290 more children remain admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Sri Krishna Medical College. Dr SK Sahi, who is the medical superintendent at Sri Krishna Medical College, told NDTV that only the monsoon could bring respite from the disease.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, who was a doctor before he entered politics, visited Muzaffarpur yesterday to take stock of the situation. After his review, the minister said he has 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 had 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.

Acute Encephalitis Syndrome 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.

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.

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