Encephalitis Kills More than 400 in India

Poor kids

More than 400 people, including 94 adults and 336 children, have died of encephalitis in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The tragedy has occurred in the neglected Gorakhpur part of the state. Doctors reveal this is one of the worst epidemic outbreaks of encephalitis in this impoverished region, which shares a border with Nepal.

Thousands of Sufferers
Doctors say this year’s epidemic is one of the worst and many patients are not able get beds in hospitals. Most of the deaths have happened since July. Greater than 2,400 sufferers have undergone treatment for encephalitis so far this year and 430 have succumbed.

Millions of Children at Risk
Last year, encephalitis claimed 215 lives, most of them children. In 2005, Uttar Pradesh lost greater than 1,400 victims to the disease. East Uttar Pradesh is particularly vulnerable to encephalitis as hundreds of malnourished children have fallen victims to the virus. Encephalitis leads to brain inflammation and damage. Common symptoms are fever, seizures and headaches. Indian health experts reveal about 70 million children all over the nation are vulnerable to encephalitis.

Park Amidst Poverty
Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in India and it runs a struggling vaccination program to prevent encephalitis affecting millions of children. The chief minister of the state, Dalit leader Mayawati, has been courting controversy by recently opening a park with much fanfare. The park has cost hundreds of crores of rupees to build, which health experts say could have been better spent on hospitals and clinics for the state’s malnourished and suffering population.

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