THE HUNT FOR A CONGRESS CHIEF
Muzaffarpur in Bihar and Gorakhpur in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh have been prone to outbreaks of acute encephalitis for around 40 years. Most of the children who die after contracting the disease are under 10 years old. Nearly 100 children have died in the past few weeks. The so-called Japanese encephalitis, part of the acute encephalitis ‘family’, is spread by mosquitoes. But other causes are more mysterious. Casting around for explanations, doctors have suggested excess heat and humidity as part of the problem; others identify toxins in lychees, grown in vast quantities in Bihar, coupled with poor nutrition and hygiene as the cause. After the deaths in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath told health officials in the state to be on guard.
children reported dead of acute encephalitis syndrome in Bihar, 108 in Muzaffarpur, as of June 18. 20 died in just 24 hours before Union health minister Harsh Vardhan’s visit
children died of AES in the 4 hours that Vardhan was in Muzaffarpur; 115 children were being treated in 2 major hospitals where the majority of children died
7 members in a central government team dispatched to Bihar to help investigate and mitigate the crisis
to be given by the Bihar government to the families of each child who dies of AES, said Bihar CM Nitish Kumar 10,485 cases of AES reported in 17 states to the National Vector Borne Diseases programme in 2018, 635 children died. In 2016, it was 11,651 cases and 1,301 deaths in 171 districs in 19 states
children have died of AES in India between 2008 and 2014, from over 44,000 cases 92% of children suffering from AES in Muzaffarpur since 1995 are below 10 years old; 50% of children suffer from hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)
allocated to fight AES between 2012-13 and 2016-17, implemented by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare alongside 5 other ministries