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Rediff.com  » News » Deadly Encephalitis continues its rampage in helpless Bihar

Deadly Encephalitis continues its rampage in helpless Bihar

June 27, 2012 12:29 IST

Manohar Paswan and Phulesri Devi's three-year-old child is fighting for his life after contracting Acute Encephalitis Syndrome.

Last week, they had admitted their only son in the Encephalitis Ward of the Sri Krishna Memorial College and Hospital in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. But his condition has not shown any signs of improvement.

"We are praying to God as only he can save our child now," said Paswan, a landless farmer.

Sudhir Kumar, whose daughter is also suffering from AES, has also turned to prayers.

"Only the rain god can save my child as the doctor told us that the monsoon will helpĀ  suppress the virus causing the disease. We are praying for the rains to arrive," Kumar said.

Paswan and Kumar are among dozens of Muzaffarpur residents whose children have been affected by the dreaded disease.

"We are helpless, hoping against hope for our children's survival," said Ranju Devi, mother of a five-year-old boy who was admitted to Kejriwal Hospital five days ago

Some influential people, along with the held of the local legislator, have organised special prayers and jagran (religious discourses) in Muzaffarpur to seek divine blessings to get rid of AES.

Muzaffarpur Civil Surgeon Dr Gyan Bhusan said that experts are of the view that monsoon rains will decrease prevalence of AES.

"Heat wave conditions help the virus to spread and intensify the disease," he said.

Alarmed by the number of children dying of AES in Muzaffarpur, a team of experts from the National Centre for Disease Control has already paid a visit to the district.

They have decided to send samples and case studies collected from the affected villages to a virology laboratory based in Atlanta.

"Till date, the cause of the disease is not known, despite repeated attempts to find that out, by local doctors and central experts," said a health official.

Meanwhile, the deadly disease has claimed the lives of five more children, mostly in Muzaffarpur, in the last 24 hours, taking the toll to 236 since May, officials said.

"Fresh AES cases have been reported from half a dozen of the 10 identified districts where the disease has spread," a health department official said.

According to officials, AES has alone claimed the lives of 164 children in Muzaffarpur District, the worst affected in the state.

"We have cancelled leaves of doctors in the affected districts and alerted hospitals to provide prompt treatment," said Health Minister Ashwani Kumar Choubey.

Other affected districts include Patna, Gaya, Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi, East Champaran and Vaishali.

"All medical colleges and hospitals have been directed to provide free medicines to patients with AES symptoms," said Health Secretary Vayasji.

Bihar is yet to officially declare AES as an epidemic.

M I Khan In Patna