Patna: Bihar health department on Tuesday admitted that 20 children have died and 36 others are undergoing treatment for a "mysterious" disease in Gaya and Muzaffarpur districts in Bihar during the past fortnight, but ruled out that it was encephalitis. State health department principal secretary Amarjit Sinha told reporters here that those afflicted do not bear symptoms of Japanese Encephalitis.

"I don't think any of them is affected by Japanese Encephalitis," he said while citing a Pune-based lab and MRI reports of the patients.

20 deaths -- nine children in Gaya and eleven children in Muzaffarpur -- had occurred in the past fortnight due to the disease, he said. A total of 36 children were still admitted in Muzaffarpur (31) and Gaya (5) with symptoms that include high fever and convulsions, he added. An action plan had already been formulated to tackle the disease and take precautionary measures, he said.

It has been ensured that the primary health centres in the two districts have the necessary medical facilities for treating the children. Sinha said assistance of Aganwari supervisors, Asha activists and others was also being taken to reach the mahadalit tolas in the two districts for spreading awareness on general preventive measures.

The symptoms of convulsions and high fever are also connected to heat stroke and malnutrition, he said. On the course taken to tackle the disease, he said an ICU for children was functional at A N Sinha Magadh Medical college hospital in Gaya and Shri Krishna Medical college hospital in Muzaffarpur.

He would undertake an inspection of the districts on Wednesday to review the situation. 35 people had died of Japanese Encephalitis in the districts last year.


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