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Fresh look at mystery fever

- Teams to look at toxicity of food

Nephrologists from Patna arrived in Muzaffarpur on Thursday morning to check the rise of suspected acute encephalitis syndrome victims even as teams got ready to tour villages for an understanding why so many children are falling to the mystery fever.

The treatment protocol being followed in Muzaffarpur to treat children with suspected acute encephalitis syndrome symptoms is not delivering enough results. So, the district administration put in a request with the health department to send a team of nephrologists for assistance. Sources said acting district magistrate Kanwal Tanuj sought the service of the team on an appeal from the doctors treating the children at Shri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) and Kejriwal Maternity Clinic.

Nephrologists Gopal Prasad and T.K. Das arrived in Muzaffarpur on Thursday morning to help the teams treating the children.

As many as 61 children with suspected acute encephalitis syndrome symptoms have died in the district.

While the duo from Patna have come to assist in the treatment, the team of scientists camping in Muzaffarpur are expanding to find the reason behind the deaths. The team from the Centre for Disease Control, Atlanta, led by Padmini Padmanabhun have decided to conduct fresh probe into toxicity of food consumed by the children leading up to their hospitalisation.

Dr Padmini told The Telegraph: “We will now focus on microbes and toxins to find the reasons for the children falling ill with symptoms of the suspected disease.”

Dr Padmini said, in a separate meeting with Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on June 10, she discussed at length the toll of suspected acute encephalitis syndrome in Muzaffarpur. She added that he encouraged the decision to tour the villages to trace the virus.

She said it is feared that the children are susceptible to eatables, especially formed by bacteria in plants and animals.

While health experts have said acute encephalitis syndrome is caused by waterborne viruses, the exact reason has not been clearly established. The disease control team is ready to start an in-depth investigation from Friday to meet the challenges in identifying the virus. The technical team of the Centre for Disease Control, Atlanta, has already collected blood samples and serum of the ailing children for pathological investigation.

The research wing of the National Centre for Disease Control, New Delhi, and Centre for Disease Control, Atlanta, on Thursday discussed strategies to visit the villages. Two scientists from the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Lucknow, would also assist the team.

Chief medical officer Gyan Bhushan said the team would visit all the villages from where the cases have been reported. The team, to be accompanied by primary health centre doctors, would stay in the villages to discuss with the families their lifestyle, food habits and living standard.


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