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Thursday 23 January 2020

Supreme Court orders Centre, Bihar to explain AES deaths

The Health Department put the total number of AES casualties across 20 districts at 152. These include the 130 deaths reported at the two Muzaffarpur-based hospitals

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday sought a response within seven days from the Centre and Bihar government on the issue of the deaths of more than 100 children in Muzaffarpur due to the outbreak of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES).

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and BR Gavai directed the Bihar government to file an affidavit on the adequacy of medical facilities, nutrition and sanitation and the hygiene conditions in the state.

During the hearing, one of the lawyers informed the court that similar deaths had occurred earlier in Uttar Pradesh.

The court took note of it and directed the state government to file its response as well.

The matter has been posted for hearing after 10 days.

Meanwhile, two more children died in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district on Sunday due to acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) even as officials asserted that afflictions and casualties had begun to dwindle with the onset of rains.

Both the deaths took place at the S K Medical College and Hospital, where 431 children, including two in the past 12 hours, have been admitted for AES treatment since 1 June, according to figures released by the district administration. The total number of AES patients who have died at the SKMCH is 110.

“There is a perceptible decline in the number of children who are being admitted with brain fever as also the number of deaths,” hospital superintendent Sunil Kumar Shahi said. “It has always been observed that AES strikes at the peak of summer and the outbreak halts with the onset of rains.”

Two fresh cases have been registered, one on Saturday and another on Sunday, Shahi said.

Besides the SKMCH, the Kejriwal hospital in the Muzaffarpur town has so far registered 162 AES cases and 20 casualties.

The Health Department put the total number of AES casualties across 20 districts at 152. These include the 130 deaths reported at the two Muzaffarpur-based hospitals, which have been admitting AES patients from nearly half a dozen districts in its proximity.

It also suspended Bhimsen Kumar, a senior resident doctor posted at the Patna Medical College Hospital, for allegedly failing to comply with the direction to report for emergency duty at the SKMCH.

Meanwhile, a huge chunk of plaster fell off the ceiling at the SKMCH in the afternoon and came crashing down on the ground, barely a few feet away from a patients’ ward.

Nobody was injured in the incident, which took place a day after human skeletal remains were found strewn near a garbage dump close to the hospital building.

Experts attribute the deaths to hypoglycemia which typically affects malnourished children below the age of 15 years and said to be triggered by consumption of unripe lychees — a fruit grown in abundance in Bihar. The fruit contains a high concentration of a toxin that causes blood-sugar levels to fall sharply.

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