The death toll from suspected Acute Encephalitis Syndrome touched 102 on Monday with 25 more children succumbing to the disease in the last 48 hours in Bihar's Muzaffarpur and Gaya districts, officials said.
"The toll reached 100 in Muzaffarpur, which is worst hit by encephalitis. There were 15 deaths in last 24 hours," a district health official said. Two children died in the Gaya district.
Muzaffarpur civil surgeon Dr Gayan Bhusan admitted that not much is known about the virus. "We are relying on symptomatic treatment to save lives of children," he said.
Bhusan said the number of children showing encephalitis-like symptoms has crossed the 300 mark this year. “At present, more than 50 children have been admitted to the government-run SKMCH and private Kejriwal hospital in Muzaffarpur.”
Alarmed over the situation as the disease has spread to new districts, the state government has appealed to the Centre for help. The disease, which was limited to Muzaffarpur district till last week, has now spread to at least 12 districts across the state
According to doctors, AES is a severe case of encephalitis characterised by inflammation of the brain. The mosquitoes transmit the infection causing high fever. "Every year, encephalitis hits Muzaffarpur, Gaya and other neighbouring districts in May or June. But this year it seems to have hit a little late," a health department official said.
Early this year, the state government launched a special vaccination drive to cover hundreds of thousands of children against encephalitis.
Last year, 62 died of encephalitis in Muzaffarpur and 102 the previous year.
Image: A child affected by encephalitis admitted to a hospital in Bihar. Photograph: Nishi Tiwari/Rediff.com.