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Return of brain fever in districts

Twenty-five cases of brain fever, suspected to be acute encephalitis syndrome, have been reported from different districts over the past four weeks, raising concern among health department officials.

The sudden spurt in cases of acute encephalitis syndrome is a matter of concern, said additional health secretary Rajendra Prasad Ojha.

“Acute encephalitis syndrome is a broad category of brain fever ailments usually reported during peak summer. This subsides once the monsoon sets in. However, several cases have been reported in the past few weeks from various districts. We are trying to see what is causing the disease during this season,” he said.

Besides acute encephalitis syndrome, 19 cases of Japanese encephalitis — a brain fever with fatality percentage reaching about 50 — have also come to light after diagnoses at the microbiology department of Patna Medical College and Hospital, said Dr Vijay Kumar, senior virologist at the institution.

The government is trying to deal with the sudden spurt in the disease, said additional health secretary Ojha.

“We have asked the medical colleges to be on their toes to tackle the situation,” he also said.

Letters have been issued to civil surgeons of the district to report any suspected cases of acute encephalitis syndrome to the state headquarters. Patients have to be referred to nearest medical college for better treatment.

Officials insisted that as the treatment to the disease was mostly symptomatic and chances of survival improve if the affected children are brought to hospital during early stage of sickness, it was crucial that patients are rushed to the health hubs at the first sign of brain fever.

Dr Sanjata Roy Chaudhary, head of the department, paediatrics, Patna Medical College and Hospital said two-three patients of suspected acute encephalitis syndrome were being reported almost every day in last three-four weeks. But many of them were recovering and being discharged from the hospital as well.

The affected children who have been coming for treatment to Patna Medical College and Hospital mostly belong to Patna and adjoining areas, like Sitamarhi, Gaya, Nawada, Muzaffarpur, Jehanabad and Sheoher districts.

This year, around 300 children suffering from an undiagnosed form of acute encephalitis syndrome have already succumbed to the disease at Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital, Muzaffarpur, Anugrah Narayan Medical College and Hospital, Gaya and Patna Medical College and Hospital between April and June.

The state government remained clueless on what form of the syndrome had hit several districts as the causative agent of the disease could not be verified in any of the laboratories in Bihar or outside.

The samples of blood and cerebral-spinal fluid of affected children were tested at Rajendra Medical Research Institute, Patna, and National Institute of Virology, Pune — one of the most advanced laboratories in the country — but no logical conclusion behind the cause of the disease could be singled out.

In past five years, at least 1,000 children in the state have died of the ailment that surges during peak summer months, ahead of monsoon.

It is reported to be a fallout of severe malnutrition, heat and humidity.


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