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Brain fever kills 97 children in India's Bihar state

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Children hold placards during a protest against the deaths of children who have died this month from encephalitis, commonly known as brain fever, in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, in New Delhi, India, on June 17, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)

At least 100 children have died this month in the eastern Indian state of Bihar from an illness that impairs the functioning of the brain.

Encephalitis, commonly known as brain fever, has led to the death of 97 children, and 146 others have been treated for the disease, Shailesh Prasad Singh, a medical official in the Muzaffarpur district of Bihar state said on Monday.

The illness is caused by any one of a number of viruses, and occurs in seasonal outbreaks every summer when temperatures soar. Symptoms include high fever, vomiting and, in severe cases, seizures, paralysis and coma.

"There are no good facilities here," Sunil Ram, the father of one girl that died, told Reuters partner ANI outside a government-run hospital on Sunday. "Had the facilities been good, she would have never died."

Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan visited the area on Sunday to assess the situation. He vowed that the national government would provide “all possible help” to local authorities to treat the sick children.

Five years ago, a similar outbreak killed about 380 people in Bihar, India's third most-populous state.

Protesters gathered in New Delhi demanding immediate intervention by the central government in Bihar.

In August 2017, India witnessed a notorious outbreak of encephalitis in the city of Gorakhpur in the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh. More than 30 children died over two days at one hospital after its oxygen ran out.  


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