Outbreak of AES Kills 57 Children in Bihar, India

At least 31 children in India killed by toxin in lychees

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan is scheduled to visit Muzaffarpur on Sunday to take stock of the situation in view of rising cases of Encephalitis and Japanese Encephalitis (JE).

Social activist Tamanna Hashmi filed the case in the Muzaffarpur Chief Judicial Magistrate's (CJM) court on Monday. "There is a need of a state-of-the-art research centre to tackle this challenge in Muzaffarpur which will work in collaboration with the ICMR and the World Health Organization", he said.

The court has fixed June 24 for hearing the case. Out of these, 76 children have died at SKMCH.

Sunil Kumar Shahi, the superintendent of Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital in Muzaffarpur, where most of the children are being treated, said that all of the patients with the illness were under the age of 9.

"Kanti, Musahari, Katra, Minapur and Muraul blocks in Muzaffarpur district have been identified as most vulnerable for the suspected AES cases", the official said.

"There is a need for starting research on AES".

"In the last 20-22 days, 57 children have died due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) outbreak".

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The Union Minister also said that a team of doctors from Norway had arrived to ascertain the cause behind the deaths of children, while blood samples have been sent to a laboratory in Pune. "Yes, we're getting such reports but all Primary Health Centres (PHCs) in Muzaffarpur and neighbouring districts have been put on high alert with necessary guidelines", said a State health department official, who declined to be identified.

But this year, the situation is alarming, said sources. This fruit is believed to persuade a fatal metabolic illness called hypoglycaemic encephalopathy in children.

This year is witnessing one of the worst outbreaks of the disease in Bihar.

He has already directed the officials concerned to ensure that preventive measures were taken in affected districts, though deaths have so far been reported from Muzaffarpur only.

Meanwhile, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the families of the children who died of the disease.

The victims of this outbreak have largely been children from poorer households. Till recently, hypoglycemia caused by lychee toxins was considered a form of AES.

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