34 deaths, fever still a mystery in Bihar

Jun 23, 2011

Even as the toll reached 34 on Wednesday, there is still confusion over the mystery disease that has gripped Muzaffarpur and its surrounding districts. While Bihar doctors diagnosed the disease as encephalitis, the National Institute of Virology, Pune, has tested all blood samples negative for the suspected disease.

At Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital, Muzaffarpur, a girl died on Wednesday, taking the toll there to 11. Nineteen are admitted with similar complaints.

All 34 victims belonged to below poverty line families living in suburban Muzaffarpur, Minapur, Kanti, Sitamarhi and in rural areas of adjoining Sheohar and Motihari districts.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said two high-level teams had come to Bihar and experts would “find out a concerted plan to deal with this disease, reported from Tirhut region during this time of the year”. Health Minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey, however, is unable to explain what this mystery disease is all about. On the other hand, Bihar BJP state president and former Union health minister Dr C P Thakur attributed the deaths to encephalitis, characterised by high or mild fever, convulsion, unconsciousness and froth from mouth.