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Villages on radar of fever team

Scientists on Friday identified Musatafapur and Jamalabad as two villages in Muzaffarpur where suspected acute encephalitis syndrome cases have been reported every year.

The teams from Centre for Disease Control, Atlanta, and National Centre for Disease Control, New Delhi, are touring the villages to identify reasons behind the outbreak of the disease.

The two villages, around 5km away from Muzaffarpur town, have become the focus of the teams conducting investigations to crack the disease. According to the records, 12 children have been admitted to Shri Krishna Medical College and (SKMCH) Hospital and Kejriwal Maternity Clinic from these two villages this year. Of them, five have died.

Several villages in the Mushahri and Bochahan blocks are also on the teams’ radar. Sources said most of the cases have been reported from Musatafapur and Jamalabad this year, while the other villages bring up one to two cases. The disease has claimed 67 lives so far.

The team from Atlanta — with the expertise to identify viruses that cause different diseases — has come to Muzaffarpur this year on the request of the state government.

Dr Padmini Padmanabhun from Atlanta said: “The investigation team would study the local factors to find the reasons behind the disease.”

Chief medical officer Gyan Bhushan said: “The teams would stay at Musatafapur, Jamalabad and other hamlets for a couple of days.”

The teams would also check fishponds and litchi orchards where children loiter during the harvest season. Gyan added that the experts also collected 30kg of litchi seeds to conduct tests at Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Lucknow, for excretion of toxins. Braj Mohan, head of department, paediatrics, SKMCH, said: “This year, too, patients have complained of eating green litchis leading to dehydration, nausea and other symptoms of encephalitis.”

In Gaya, too, two children have succumbed to suspected acute encephalitis syndrome. Three-year olds Nitish Kumar from Miyabigha village and Rahul Raj from Bageshwari area in Gaya town died at Anugrah Narayan Medical College and Hospital since Thursday. Nitish died around 11pm on Thursday, while Rahul died around 12 hours later on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Muzaffarpur administration suspended assistant chief medical officer B.N. Jha for allegedly failing to tone up healthcare in the government sadar hospital and primary health centres.