Bihar: Encephalitis death toll touches 67; Health Minister Harsh Vardhan to visit Muzaffarpur

Four children died in Muzaffarpur district Saturday due to hypoglycemia, taking the number of such deaths to 67 this month, officials said. All the victims, most of whom are below the age of 10, have fallen prey to hypoglycemia, a condition caused by a very low level of blood sugar and electrolyte imbalance, they said. Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan will visit Muzaffarpur on Sunday to take stock and review the situation following the death of 67 children this month. The 67 children died in two hospitals here – the state-run Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) and the Kejriwal Hospital which is run by a trust. According to a release by the Muzaffarpur district administration the four children died at SKMCH on Saturday. Since June 1, 197 children have been admitted to SKMCH while 91 were admitted to Kejriwal Hospital with suspected Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES), but most of them were found to be victims of hypoglycemia. The condition of six children undergoing treatment at each of the two hospitals is stated to be serious. 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. He expressed concern over the childrens deaths, and said the party will not organise any programme to welcome anyone for two weeks. It is a painful period for all of us. This unknown disease has taken a heavy toll this year, he told reporters after visiting the SKMCH where he spoke to patients and their relatives. In the last two years, the number of deaths was around two or four, Rai said, adding the Centre and the state governments have taken requisite preventive measures and so far 69 children, affected with the disease, have been discharged from the two hospitals. The Union Minister said a team from Norway has arrived to ascertain the reasons behind the deaths of children while samples were sent to a laboratory in Pune. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had earlier advised parents not to let their children sleep or have litchi on empty stomach, as a preventive measure. 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. Health Departments Principal Secretary Sanjay Kumar had earlier said the disease has affected 222 blocks of 12 districts especially Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Sheohar and East Champaran. A central government team of experts had visited Muzaffarpur on Wednesday.


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