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News  


 

Encephalitis kills 211 in India

NEW DELHI: At least 211 people, mostly children, have died in an outbreak of Japanese encephalitis in an impoverished region of northern Indian and the death toll is likely to soar, officials said last night.
Eastern parts of India’s most populous state are ravaged by encephalitis each year as malnourished children succumb to the virus which is transmitted by mosquitoes from pigs to humans but this is one of the worst outbreaks, officials said.
“Most of the deaths have occurred in the Gorakhpur district of Uttar Pradesh state since the monsoon struck the region in July,” regional health officer UK Srivastava said from Gorakhpur.
The deaths of five more children on Friday pushed the toll to 211, with hundreds sick, some two to a bed, in hospitals in Gorakhpur, a deeply neglected area of 14 million people, he said.
“A total of 1,299 patients had been admitted in hospitals until Friday in Gorakhpur,” which is the epicentre of the outbreak, and “more encephalitis patients are coming into our hospitals,” Srivastava said.
“We fear the total number of encephalitis cases will go up to at least 3,500 and the death rate will be at a ratio of around 20 per cent,” Srivastava said.
Japanese encephalitis causes brain inflammation and can result in brain damage. Symptoms include headaches, seizures and fever.
Health experts say 70 million children nationwide are at risk of encephalitis.
Unusually heavy monsoon rains coupled with overflowing rivers coursing through Gorakhpur are making it tougher for health workers battling encephalitis.