Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was due Tuesday to visit the state-run Sri Krishna Medical College, where most of the children have died. Can Lychees Be Poisonous? "If someone comes to the hospital in a private vehicle, the fare will be reimbursed to them", he said. Schools will reportedly remain closed until June 22 as a precautionary measure to help manage and contain the crisis. The Chief Secretary also directed that all the shops in the affected areas in south Bihar will remain shut between 11 am and 5 pm. Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey had earlier said that a team that was formed to ascertain the cause of this disease concluded that sleeping empty stomach at night, dehydration due to humidity and eating lychee on empty stomach were some of the causes of Encephalitis.
A team of Union health department officials visited the district over the weekend and clarified that AES was an umbrella of symptoms, unlike Japanese Encephalitis which was a viral infection.
Vardhan visited Muzaffarpur on Sunday to take stock of the situation.
Bihar health officials on Monday said 103 children have lost their lives after contracting acute encephalitis syndrome in Muzaffarpur district, reported the Hindustan Times. The party said better preparedness could have saved lives.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday issued a notice to the Bihar government and the Union Health Ministry calling for a detailed report on the growing number child deaths caused by the encephalitis virus in the state's Muzaffarpur district. It observed that despite reported measures taken by the government agencies, deaths of children in such large number indicated a possible flaw in the implementation of vaccination and awareness programmes. It is usually characterised by high fever and inflammation of the brain.
AES outbreaks are not uncommon in the hot summer months when Bihar's lush lychee orchards are in bloom.
"Bihar's Health Minister Mangal Pandey seems more anxious about cricket score than the death of children", tweeted Randeep Surjewala of the opposition Congress party.
Moreover, the poor condition of state finances and widespread poverty - Bihar routinely finds itself at the bottom of socio-economic rankings - hinder simple steps such as ensuring an evening meals for children, controlling litchi consumption, and implementing rapid glucose correction in patients that may have arrested the swift spread of the disease.