The deaths of five more children because of a mysterious disease in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur and Gaya districts has taken the death toll to 36 in 10 days, officials said Thursday. The government has yet to identify the cause of the deaths.
Health Minister Ashwani Kumar Choubey and Principal Secretary (Health) Amarjit Sinha denied reports that the children were dying due to suspected encephalitis. ”The causes are yet to be ascertained,” Choubey said. Sinha said most deaths were due to excessive heat, dehydration and malnutrition. Till date, 28 children have died in Muzaffarpur and eight in Gaya. Over four dozen children suffering from the mysterious disease have been admitted to hospitals in both districts. Nearly a dozen are battling for life, said a health official. Some doctors and health officials have reportedly claimed that the children were suffering from symptoms similar to encephalitis. Last year, encephalitis, a mosquito-borne disease, claimed nearly 150 lives in the two districts.