Nibha Kumari (7), one of the two children diagnosed with Japanese encephalitis at Patna Medical College and Hospital, is yet to regain her limb movements much to her father’s worry.
Munna Yadav, a farmer from Haibaspur village in Patna district, around 30km southwest of the city, sits by her bed in the paediatrics department. All he hopes is her eyeballs and other body parts move. At least two weeks into treatment, she has been administered more than 25 bottles of saline water.
According to data available with the health department, Nibha’s was the first Japanese encephalitis case in Patna district this year. Last year, not a single case of Japanese encephalitis was reported from the district, while in 2012, three cases were reported.
Another seven-year-old, Sonu Kumar, from Salempur village in Gopalganj, around 200km northwest of Patna, is also undergoing treatment. He is relatively better than Nibha and talking to his parents.
Munna said: “Initially, I thought Nibha had fever as she would regularly bathe at night. But when her body temperature increased, I took her to a private practitioner who referred her to the PMCH. We brought her here on June 22. It was confirmed that she is suffering from Japanese encephalitis a few days back. Her body temperature used to be 101 to 102°F, but has now come down to 98°F. Her condition has improved a little, but there is still no movement in her eye and other body parts.”
Lack of limb movements is one of the symptoms of Japanese encephalitis.
Head of department, paediatrics, Sanjata Roy Choudhary said: “Two Japanese encephalitis cases have been detected in the last one week. These are the first two cases reported at PMCH this year.”
She added: “The symptoms of acute encephalitis syndrome and Japanese encephalitis are quite similar. The only difference between the two is there is a vaccine for Japanese encephalitis. However, it does not mean vaccination will prevent the disease.”
Nigam Prakash Narayan, another paediatrician at PMCH, said: “While the mortality rate of acute encephalitis syndrome is around 20-30 per cent, that of Japanese encephalitis is something between 30 and 32 per cent. It is deadly but can be prevented with vaccination. The government has initiated massive vaccination drives, but mostly in the districts vulnerable to Japanese encephalitis. The need of the hour is to conduct it in all the districts.”
N.K. Sinha, the state immunisation officer, said: “There has been a drastic drop in the cases of Japanese encephalitis in the past two years. This has been possible only because we have been carrying out the vaccination drive.”