Alarmed over the rising deaths from suspected encephalitis in Bihar, All India Institute of Medical Sciences-Patna has initiated a move to control the disease, an official said Tuesday. The toll from suspected Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) has risen to 108 with 16 more children dying in the last 24 hours, as it spread to new districts.
Meanwhile, union Food and Public Distribution Minister Ram Vilas Paswan demanded Rs.10 lakh compensation be given to each victim’s family. He said he will request the centre to declare outbreak of the disease as an epidemic.
‘The toll has crossed 104 in Muzaffarpur alone while two children each died in Gaya and Patna,’ a health official said. ‘We have joined hands with Patna-based Rudr Welfare Trust to create awareness as a preventive measure to control the disease,’ AIIMS-Patna director G.K. Singh said.
He told IANS here AIIMS-Patna will distribute 100,000 hand bills and 100,000 posters in AES-affected areas to ensure people understand the risk and danger associated with the disease. ‘The outbreak of this disease can be controlled by creating awareness in the affected areas in Muzaffarpur and its neighbouring districts,’ he said.
Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, while talking to media persons here, expressed his unhappiness over the inadequate support from the centre to the state government in tiding over the health crisis. ‘I am sorry to say that central government is yet to provide adequate help to us despite repeated requests made by the state government,’ Manjhi said.
The disease, limited to Muzaffarpur district till last week, has now spread to other districts with AES cases being reported from Vaishali, Samastipur, Sheohar, East Champaran, Sitamarhi, Begusarai, Gaya and Patna.
Muzaffarpur civil surgeon Gayan Bhusan said the number of children showing AES-like symptoms has crossed 360 mark this year.
‘Likely rain Wednesday will provide relief to the children suffering from the disease and help to suppress the virus causing it,’ he said. Children are dying as medical experts and government officials have failed to control the deadly disease. Bhusan admitted AES virus is still unkonwn.
‘We are relying on symptomatic treatment to save lives,’ he said.
According to doctors, the AES is a severe case of encephalitis characterised by inflammation of the brain. Mosquitoes transmit the infection, causing high fever among the children.
Early this year, the state government launched a special vaccination drive to cover hundreds of thousands of children against encephalitis.
Suspected AES-related deaths of children were first reported in 1995 in Muzaffarpur. But neither experts from abroad nor from different medical institutes of the country have visited or collected samples to study the cause of deaths in over a decade, thereby failing to identify the virus till date.