Encephalitis death toll crosses 100 in Bihar, parents fume

"Children are dying, but politicians are just not bothered. Why would they be? Their kids are not dying," said a helpless parent

Chandrakant Mishra

Chandrakant Mishra   17 Jun 2019 2:05 PM GMT

"I named my son Veer. He is my only son and I love him a lot. We all love him," said Ashok Singh, 28, who lives in Amrakh village, Turki block in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. Ashok's nine-month-old son Veer is admitted in Medical College in Mazaffarpur. He is suffering from what locals call chamki bukhar, suspected to be Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES).

"He got high fever on June 14 and was breathless. We panicked and got him here. Our worst fear came true when doctors confirmed he has chamki bukhar. It's been two days that he has opened his eyes," said Ashok and started sobbing.

This is how the helpless father celebrated Father's Day on Sunday.

At least 100 children have died due to the viral disease outbreak in Bihar so far. More than 200 children, aged between one and seven, are admitted in various private and government hospitals as the state continues to grapple with the deadly disease. Condition of some children is claimed to be serious.

Doctors claim the deaths due to AES are being caused due to excessive heat and humidity.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan arrived in Patna on Sunday to review public health measures for containment and management of the AES. He was greeted in the state capital with black flags.

In the wake of the fatalities, Chief Minister of Bihar Nitish Kumar announced an ex gratia of Rs 4 lakh each to families of the children who died due to AES in Muzaffarpur.

Deaths leave helpless parents fuming

Suresh Sahani, 44, a resident of Vaishali, is at Kejriwal hospital. His daughter is admitted there. He is fuming and his anger is directed at complete apathy displayed by government authorities and mismanagement at various hospitals.

"Children are dying here, but politicians are just not bothered. Why would they be? Their children and not dying. These kids are dying this year, more kids will die next year. But no one cares," he said.

Rajesh Sahi, 55, who lives in Muzaffarpur said: "This is how the situation has been since past one decade. People die every summer, angry parents create a ruckus, and then the anger goes down the drain as soon as it starts raining," he said.

"A team from National Council of Digital Control arrives every year. They say something, but they don't arrive at any conclusion. Children continue to die. When will this stop?" he asked.

The central team of experts, who arrived in Muzaffarpur, 10 days back, has not been able to crack the main reason behind outbreak of this disease.

Arun Sinha, advisor, National Child Welfare Programme, said: "This disease is related to brain tissue. But it's important to study this so that we are in a position to save these children."

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