The death toll from a fever that has gripped Muzaffarpur and adjoining districts in Bihar has risen to 93, with a five-year-old girl dying in front of Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday.
The minister was visiting Bihar’s Sri Krishna Medical College hospital to review the ground situation in the state. Over the past month, Muzaffarpur has been grappling with Acute Encephalitis Syndrome. Many of the children died due to hypoglycaemia, a condition caused by low blood sugar.
Harsh Vardhan, a doctor before joining politics, reached Bihar on Saturday. After attending a state-level review meeting, he told NDTV: “Despite all problems and considering the seriousness of this disease, I appreciate the efforts put in by the doctors to ensure efficient treatment to everyone.”
Acute Encephalitis Syndrome is a catch-all term for afflictions of the central nervous system, caused by viral infections. The virus was considered to be the one that causes Japanese Encephalitis, but AES could also be caused by scrub typhus, zika, Nipah or even mumps virus. In some cases, the cause remains undetected. Till recently, hypoglycemia caused by lychee toxins was considered a form of AES.
This year has seen one of the worst outbreaks of the disease in Bihar.
Doctors claimed that the deaths are caused by excessive heat and humidity. A report in India Today said, locally, the fever is called Chamki.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 4 Lakh each for families of children who died due to AES in Muzaffarpur. He has also given directions to health department, district administration and the doctors to take necessary measures to fight the disease.
Experts are of the opinion that unless and until rainfall takes place, the situation will only aggravate in the days to come.