Muzaffarpur, Aug. 17: The mystery behind the unidentified disease that claimed the lives of 50 children in the district this year could soon be cracked.
Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) has forwarded a proposal to the state government to set up a joint long-term research centre in the health hub to conduct research in diseases like kala azar and encephalitis that are common in north Bihar.
Medics from Indian Medical Research Institute, New Delhi and Rajendra Memorial Research Institute (RMRI), Patna, will provide a helping hand to the centre. It would be the second such research centre in the state after the one at RMRI. State health minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey met Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad in July this year and requested him to open a research centre in view of the recent resurgence of encephalitis-like disease in north Bihar.
The disease claimed the lives of more than 50 children in a span of a fortnight this year. Chief minister Nitish Kumar also spoke to Azad to request him expedite the process to set up the research centre in the interest of the ailing citizens. After that, SKMCH sent the proposal for the research centre to the state government. The proposal was forwarded to the Centre for necessary formalities.
SKMCH superintendent Dr G.K. Thakur told The Telegraph: “The Union ministry of health and family planning was considering the proposal to set up the research centre at the health hub. The Planning Commission has already approved it.” Sources said the research centre could be functional within a month and a half.
The spurt in the disease that has symptoms similar to encephalitis has led to a flurry of activity at the health hub. A group of experts visited the health hub to conduct proper investigation of the mysterious disease. A team of virologists comprising Dr B.B. Tandle from National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, Dr C.P. Rawat and Dr S.K. Jain from National Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme, New Delhi, and paediatric Dr I.D. Choudhary from Safdarganj Hospital, New Delhi, stayed in the district for a week in June. They also collected the brain tissues of a child who had died from the disease to conduct experiments.
Choudhary told The Telegraph over telephone from New Delhi that laboratory examination of the brain tissues could not establish the virus connected with the fatal disease. NIV has also not been able to ascertain the exact cause of the disease till now.