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US nod to sample test

The Union health minister has cleared the process of sending blood and cerebrospinal fluid samples of children affected by the mystery disease from Muzaffarpur and adjoining districts to US for research.

Two experts from Centre for Disease Control, Atlanta, US, James Xavier and John D. Thomas, had visited Muzaffarpur twice in May and June. They stayed for over a fortnight to oversee the treatment of suspected encephalitis-affected children and supervise collection of samples for laboratory investigation in Atlanta. The experts had left Muzaffarpur with the samples and stored them in the National Centre for Disease Control, New Delhi.

Vardhan, who was in Muzaffarpur on a two-day visit on June 21 to take stock of the situation, had said he would meet the director of Centre for Disease Control, Atlanta, US, on June 27 and June 28. He added that he would clear the process of sending the samples to Atlanta and seek permission from the ministry of external affairs, US, to expedite the investigation.

Chief medical officer-cum-civil surgeon Giyan Bhushan said: “We have got an official information from the Union health minister stating that he has sought necessary permission to send the samples to US and expedite the research. The samples would be sent from New Delhi to the Centre for Disease Control, Atlanta, US, in a week.”

Quoting James Xavier, Bhushan said there was an urgent need to examine the level of toxins and metabolism in the blood samples.

SKMCH superintendent G.K. Thakur said: “The samples of affected children collected last year, which are stored in National Centre for Disease Control, New Delhi, would also be sent to US.”

The virus has claimed the 142 lives so far this year. The inclement weather has brought a relief to the virus threat. “In the past 24 hours, no new case was received at SKMCH or Kejriwal Maternity Clinic,” Thakur said.