Two children died Wednesday in Bihar's Muzaffarpur district, which is reeling under an outbreak of brain fever, taking the toll this month to 43, although a top state health official maintained that the casualties were not related to the outbreak but were caused by hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia causes an abnormally low level of sugar in the blood or deficiency of sodium or potassium in the body, the official said.
According to a release issued by the Muzaffarpur district administration, two children died at the SKMCH hospital here where a total of 117 cases of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) have been reported since June 1. Out of the reported cases, 36 have died till date, while 24 have been discharged and among those undergoing treatment, six were said to be in a critical condition, it said.
In the private Kejriwal hospital, the total number of reported cases is 55 and seven of the children admitted since June 1 has died so far though there was no death on Wednesday, the release said. Among the patients undergoing treatment, the condition of four is stated to be critical.
Meanwhile, the state's Director-in-Chief (disease control) R D Ranjan visited the town, heading a team of Health Department officials sent from the Bihar capital, to take stock of the situation. Talking to reporters, he said, "We can confirm the data as on June 10. Till that date, 34 deaths had taken place and 109 cases of chamki bukhar (brain fever) reported. More data is being updated. None of the deaths, so far, has been caused by AES. The casualties were a result of hypoglycemia - abnormally low level of sugar in the blood or deficiency of sodium and/or potassium - caused by intense heat and humidity."
In Patna, Principal Secretary (Health) Sanjay Kumar said, "We have received instructions from the chief minister to ensure that preventive measures were taken in the 12 affected districts, though deaths have so far been reported from only Muzaffarpur." "Stern action will be taken against officials who are found to be lax in ensuring distribution of oral rehydration solution and spreading of awareness regarding preventive steps," he added.
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