Nitish Kumar To Visit Encephalitis Hit Areas Today

A deadly outbreak of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in Bihar has killed 126 children, with 107 deaths reported from Muzzaffarpur and its surrounding districts. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today made his first visit to Muzzaffarpur since the outbreak began 17 days ago.

According to official data available till late Monday night, 85 children died at the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital in Muzzaffarpur with a further 18 dying at the Kejriwal Maternity Hospital. The Chief Minister had earlier announced “an ex gratia payment of Rs. 4 lakh to the next of the kin of those who have died”.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan chaired a high-level meeting yesterday that was also attended by officials from the Health Ministry, AIIMS and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), in which he said there was “urgent need for an inter-disciplinary, high-quality research team”.

“To establish the cause of the disease, there is an urgent need for an inter-disciplinary, high-quality research team. The research team shall work with the children suffering from AES looking at various aspects including periodicity, the cycle of disease, environmental factors, and metrological data, besides other factors,” the health minister, who was a doctor before entering politics said.

Dr Vardhan, who visited Muzzaffarpur hospitals on Sunday, also directed the establishment of five virological labs across different districts in the state and the setting-up of a 100-bed paediatric Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH).