Seven more children died of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) in Muzaffarpur and Patna districts of Bihar, taking the state’s death toll to 150 in the past month. State health officials said they had identified 10 districts where the disease has spread. State Health Minister Ashwani Kumar Choubey has again appealed for central assistance, saying that his government was serious about controlling spread of the disease. ”We have cancelled leave of doctors in the all the affected districts and alerted hospitals to provide prompt treatment” Choubey said.
AES, a mosquito-borne disease, has claimed the lives of 92 children so far in Muzaffarpur district alone – the highest deaths in the state. Most of these children died at the Sri Krishna Memorial College Hospital and the Kejriwal Charitable Hospital. During his visit to Muzaffarpur, around 75 km from here, Choubey directed health officials to spray DDT insecticide in identified villages. A district official, however, informed IANS over phone that insecticide spraying was yet to begin. A team from New Delhi is also in the district to help contain the viral disease. The worst affected districts include Patna, Gaya, Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi, East Champaran and Vaishali.
Additional Secretary (Health) R.P. Ojha said 47 children had so far died at the Patna Medical College Hospital and 11 at Gaya’s Anugrah Narain Medical College Hospital. ”All medical college and hospitals have been directed to provide free medicines to patients showing symptoms of AES,” said Health Secretary Vayasji. Bihar is yet to officially declare an AES epidemic, which is mostly killing children from poor families.