Encephalitis hits UP, 38 down and counting…

LUCKNOW: Acute encephalitis has claimed 38 lives and affected 118 persons even before the onset of the monsoons, the ‘disease season’, say reports. Uttar Pradesh chief secretary Jawed Usmani issued repeated directives to the state health department and officials posted in the districts to initiate preventive measures, but to no avail, it would seem.

Medically speaking, encephalitis is the inflammation of the brain caused by microbial agents such as bacteria and viruses.

Viral infection is the main cause of infection in 98% of the patients in eastern districts of UP, parts of Bihar and Nepal.

Encephalitis has killed children for long, but the documentation work began in the mid 1970s. Earlier, the Arbo-B virus was the main cause of encephalitis and the disease was called Japanese encephalitis. After extensive vaccination campaigns, the incidence of Japanese encephalitis subsided.

Still children continue to die.

Researches have shown that the cause of encephalitis in about 45% of the cases is not known.

 Statistics gathered from the health department show that of the total cases, 103 patients belonged to UP of whom 34 died. Biharis accounted for the remaining 14 cases and four deaths. A patient from Nepal is also undergoing treatment at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College of Gorakhpur. Kushinagar turned out to be the worst affected district so far, but Gorakhpur has seen the maximum deaths.

 In Kushinagar, as many as 30 cases and 10 deaths have been reported while in Gorakhpur, 12 of the 23 patients suffering with acute encephalitis have died. What has pressed the panic button for the health department officials is that the case fatality rate for the first quarter of 2013 is significantly higher than that in 2012.

 Case fatality rate refers to the number of patients who die against those admitted. In the first quarter of 2012, as many as 26.88% of the children suffering from AES died, a growth of 33% in 2013. Doctors at the communicable diseases unit of state health directorate believe that by the end of the year, the case fatality rate will subside.

 The only silver lining is that the number of cases of Japanese encephalitis is down. Experts at the Gorakhpur unit of National Institute of Virology give credit to the special vaccination drive against JE for the low number of cases. Still as these children struggle for life, staff employed in the hospital attended them calmly. “The season is yet to begin. Come in August or September to know what the encephalitis epidemic looks like,” a medical officer told TOI.

Doctors say that the cause of encephalitis in about 45%  cases is not known. But in an equal proportion of children, strains of entero-virus are causing disease.

 Entero virus is a large family divided into four, like: echo, coxsacie-B, polio and human entero-virus (HEV). It is normally associated with polio, but is largely found in human excreta.

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Posted by on April 10, 2013. Filed under HEALTH,Uttar Pradesh. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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