The death toll among children suffering from suspected Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Bihar's Muzaffarpur rose to 69 on Saturday, with most of the victims aged between one and seven years. Of the total number of fatalities, 55 deaths have been reported at the city's Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital and the remaining 11 at the famous Kejriwal Hospital in Juran Chhapra area. A day after it was reported that 69 people have succumbed to the disease, the toll has now reached a staggering 80.
The condition of five children undergoing treatment in each of the hospitals is stated to be critical, the release said.
Meanwhile, Union minister and Bihar BJP chief Nityanand Rai, during his first visit to the state after being sworn in as MoS Home, went straight to Muzaffarpur from Patna airport, cancelling all felicitation programmes. The team had also stressed on the urgent need to ensure capacity building of doctors, nurses and paramedics at the hospital to tackle such situations. "We are further analyzing the situation", the union minister said.
"I shall discuss the management measures being recommended by the high-level expert team of the Centre, and support that can be extended through National Health Mission for health systems strengthening, and other ministries of the Central government, including the Ministry of Women and Child Development as part of the immediate and long term measures", Vardhan said. Many Researchers have linked the spread of the disease to the lychee fruit and there are some among them who consider heat as a factor also.
Health Department's Principal Secretary Sanjay Kumar had earlier said the disease has affected 222 blocks of 12 districts especially Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Sheohar and East Champaran. It is characterized by high fever and inflammation of the brain. This can be gauged from the fact that the two paediatric intensive care units at SKMCH are full and the hospital authorities were forced to open a third PICU to accommodate fresh cases.
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