With nine more children dying of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) over last 24 hours, the disease assumed alarming proportions in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district.
Fifty children who have contracted it are in hospitals, with doctors making all efforts to save their lives while new cases were reported from far flung areas of the district.
"There have been 13 deaths due to AES, while 50 children are undergoing treatment at Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) and the Kejriwal Hospital. All of them are below six years of age," said Muzaffarpur Civil Surgeon Dr Gyan Bhusan.
Bhushan said that more cases are expected as the disease spreads fast in hot and humid pre-monsoon weather.
"Temperatures are running over 40 degree Celsius and humidity is around 70 per cent which results in the growth of AES. The arrival of cases may increase till the onset of monsoon here," he said.
Outbreak of AES, which is also considered as 'kids' killer disease', has become a regular feature during pre-monsoon summer season for the last few years in Muzaffarpur.
"A team of researchers led by James J Sejvar from Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, USA, is here trying to isolate the virus or viruses responsible for the syndrome. Still, there could be no time frame for when they will be able to achieve it," Bhushan said.
The Muzaffarpur administration issued instructions to bring all children suspected of AES to SKMCH to hospitals.
Meanwhile, Bhushan said Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi has issued instructions to provide Rs 50,000 [US$846] as immediate compensation to such parents who have lost their children to AES.
Additional measures are being taken to step up hygiene and provide safe drinking water facilities in the district.