Chief Minister Nitish Kumar -- who had visited the town on Tuesday and issued elaborate instructions to tackle the situation -- is scheduled to hold a high-level meeting in Gaya later in the day.
Three more children suffering from Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) have died here since Wednesday evening, taking the total number of deaths caused due to the outbreak to 118, the district administration said Thursday. While two deaths were reported from the SKMCH hospital — raising the toll at the government healthcare facility to 97 — another child died at privately-owned Kejriwal hospital, where the total number of casualties has reached 20.
One death was reported from East Champaran district two days ago. The total number of AES cases registered since June 1 was 398 at the SKMCH and 154 at Kejriwal hospital, according to figures provided by the district administration. Uttar Pradesh-based paediatrician Kafeel Khan, who was suspended last year following the deaths of a large number of Japanese encephalitis-afflicted children at a hospital in Gorakhpur, has landed at the north Bihar town to volunteer his service.
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The doctor, who has been running a “health for all” campaign after being released on bail by the Allahabad High Court, has set up a camp in the town’s Damodarpur locality to offer free medical care to patients. His twitter feed is also abuzz with videos aimed at spreading awareness about the symptoms of brain fever.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar — who had visited the town on Tuesday and issued elaborate instructions to tackle the situation — is scheduled to hold a high-level meeting in Gaya later in the day. The meeting is likely to take place after an “aerial survey” of Nawada, Aurangabad and Gaya districts, which have been reeling under an intense heat wave that has claimed more than 80 lives in the state so far. At the meeting, the chief minister will review the measures taken for protecting the people from the heat wave and brain fever, and evaluate the steps initiated for the prevention of Japanese encephalitis (JE) outbreak, which has been reported from several central Bihar districts in the past.
According to experts, unlike JE, AES is not caused by a viral infection but by malnutrition and a toxin found in unripe litchis, which is said to trigger hypoglycemia or very low blood sugar levels.