Encephalitis kills 60 in eastern India in fortnight

An outbreak of encephalitis has killed 60 people in two weeks in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal, a top health official has said, calling the situation "alarming'.

Hundreds of mainly die across India each year from the mosquito-borne virus, but West Bengal is not normally one of the worst-hit states.

Only five people died last year in West Bengal from Japanese , one form of the virus which normally hits during the monsoon season when mosquitos breed.

West Bengal health services director Biswaranjan Satpathy said late on Monday there had been a sudden spike in cases and deaths between July 7 and 20.

Satpathy chaired a meeting of state medical officers on Monday to assess the situation that he said had reached "alarming proportions".

He said there was no specific reason for the jump, and instead cited "seasonal variance".

"It wasn't like this in June, it suddenly shot up," Satpathy also told reporters on Tuesday, while visiting a hospital in Siliguri, some 460 kilometres (285 miles) north of state capital Kolkata.

"We are dedicated to this. The cases are happening and that's why people are here. We are trying to help everyone," he said.

India's most populous states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar further north are ravaged by encephalitis every year as mainly malnourished children succumb to the disease.

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.

National health minister Harsh Vardhan last month ordered "extraordinary steps" to end encephalitis, including an immunisation drive and dedicated hospital beds for encephalitis patients in affected districts.

Although there is a vaccine for Japanese encephalitis, mainly children die from other forms of the disease, including acute encephalitis syndrome, the exact causes of which are not known.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Encephalitis kills at least 430 in India

Oct 15, 2011

At least 430 people, mainly children, have died from an outbreak of encephalitis in a deeply neglected region of the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, officials said on Saturday.

Deadly year for encephalitis feared in India

Jun 18, 2013

A mosquito-borne disease that preys on the young and malnourished is sweeping across poverty-riven northern India again this monsoon season, with officials worried it could be the deadliest outbreak in nearly ...

Recommended for you

British Ebola nurse discharged from hospital

1 hour ago

A British nurse who contracted Ebola while working as a volunteer in Sierra Leone said she was "happy to be alive" as she was discharged from hospital on Saturday having made a full recovery.

Tide turning in Ebola fight after hard lessons

19 hours ago

A top U.N. official in the fight against Ebola greeted just three patients at one treatment center he visited this week in Sierra Leone. Families in Liberia are no longer required to cremate the remains of ...

Just five Ebola cases left in Liberia: UN

23 hours ago

The United Nations said on Saturday Liberia was dealing with just five remaining cases of Ebola, in the clearest sign yet that the country is nearing the end of the outbreak.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.