|Encephalitis kills 211 in
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
“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