The children of Bihar are once again in the grip of heatwave and Chamki fever in the summers. The Chamki Fever also know as Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) outbreaks occur annually in May-June in Tirhut division in Bihar. From the past couple of years, the death toll was under 15. But, this year it has exponentially increased and has crossed 112 deaths as on 19th June 2019.
What is AES?
Acute Encephalitis Syndrome is a brain disease. It can be of various kinds:
- Encephalitis – virus causing brain inflammation
- Meningitis – swelling of protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord
- Encephalopathy – a brain disease that alters brain structure
- Cerebral malaria – a severe neurological complication of infection with Malaria
Affected Areas of Bihar
The first case of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome was identified in Muzaffarpur in 1995. Most of the cases of AES are from Muzaffarpur. But, some cases have also been reported from adjoining areas of Vaishali, Shivhar, Poorvi and Western Champaran.
Cause of Chamki Fever in Bihar
There are several theories about the cause of Chamki Fever in Bihar. In India, the most common cause is the Encephalitis virus that causes Japanese encephalitis (JE). The Health Ministry attributes 5-35% of AES cases to the JE virus.
However this year, according to DHS – (Directorate of Health Services) in Bihar, the JE virus has been the cause of only two of the AES cases so far.
Some studies also say that cause of Chamki fever can be heat stroke, or a toxin in litchi. The exact cause has not been identified yet. Though, most of the deaths are been attributed to hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar level) this year.
Who are at risk?
- Poor, malnourished children
- People in rural areas
- Children below 15 years
- People with a weakened immune system
Symptoms of AES
Some of the symptoms to look out for are:
- High fever
- Body ache
- Sensitivity to light
- Stiff neck and back
- Muscle weakness
- Seizures, paralysis and coma (in severe cases)
The precautions that can be taken to be safe are:
- Have ORS
- Drink plenty of liquid
- Don’t sleep empty stomach
- Practise good hygiene
- Wash hands frequently with soap
- Protect against mosquitoes
- Get vaccination – 2 doses of JE vaccination is approved by the Government of India
We, at Patna Diaries, hope that you will be safe and hydrated this summer.