At least three to four people fall prey to the disease, which has become a perennial malady in poverty-ridden eastern Uttar Pradesh. Over 3000 children have died on account of the deadly virus since 2006.
"Despite several preventive measures, the virus strikes back every year during the monsoons," said Dr KP Kushwaha, the head of department of paediatrics at the BR Medical College in Gorakhpur that has become the nodal centre for treatment of all affected victims.
"Since majority of the affected cases are admitted to this medical college we face the brunt of the pressure. Even now as against a bed strength of 200 we are treating 470 patients," he added.
Asked to comment on the steps taken by the administration to alleviate the suffering of the people, an official spokesman said, UP Chief Minister Mayawati [ Images ] has acted promptly on the report of chief secretary Anoop Misra. The government has now released a special grant of Rs 22 crore to combat the menace."
He said, "Several measures have been ordered by the chief minister to handle the problem of poor sanitation, water-logging and poor availability of clean drinking water in the vast rural expanse in the region."
Besides a provision of 2000 new hand-pumps in different villages, the chief minister has also issued stern directives to municipal authorities in and around Gorakhour to improve general sanitation through timely cleaning of drains, intensive fogging and by not allow prolonged water-logging under any circumstances.
"As for our hospital, we have been assured of an additional wing of 100 beds together with enhanced seats in our post-graduate programme so that we have sufficient number of residents on duty 24 hours," Dr Kushwaha said. "We will also get eight new ventilators," he added.