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25 deaths from encephalitis, say docs

Siliguri, July 15: At least 25 people have died from encephalitis at North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in the past 10 days, doctors have said.

Doctors said patients were reaching the referral hospital every day from different parts of north Bengal and the adjoining lower Assam.

Amarendranath Sarkar, the superintendent of NBMCH, said this evening: “At least 25 people have died in the past 10 days at NBMCH. All of them were suffering from encephalitis. We have another 40-45 patients with the symptoms of the disease. Our staff have collected their blood samples for confirmatory tests. Everyday, we are getting around 10 patients with symptoms of encephalitis.”

According to NBMCH sources, those who died and others under treatment are mostly from Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Cooch Behar districts and also from the districts of lower Assam. “There are a few patients from North Dinajpur and Darjeeling districts as well,” said a source.

Doctors in Siliguri said encephalitis is a viral disease but can also be caused by bacterial infection.

“Encephalitis is an infection of a brain tissue and generally caused by virus. A number of viruses can cause encephalitis. The initial symptoms are fever, headache and body ache like any other viral fever but in the case of encephalitis, these are followed by vomiting, unconsciousness and eventually, cardio-respiratory failure,” said a senior physician.

A health department official said at least 100 patients with suspected encephalitis were under treatment at different hospitals across north Bengal, especially in Darjeeling, Alipurduar, Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri districts. He added that the figure was increasing everyday

Chandrima Bhattacharya, the minister of state for health, however, said her department didn’t have information about encephalitis. “We do not have information about over 100 patients being treated for encephalitis,” she said at Uttarkanya today.