New Delhi: India’s Supreme Court on Monday ordered a probe into the rise in death toll from a brain disease that has stricken children in India’s Bihar.
The apex court demanded the government explain what measures it has taken to combat the spread of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) — a deadly disease that has been widely linked to the eating of unripened lychee fruit.
According to the Government figures, 152 children have died in districts across the eastern state, with 131 in two hospitals in Muzaffarpur.
Recently the Union Health Ministry has sent 5 high level delegations to the state to support the state government in combating the situation. However, the situation has further deteoriated since.
The SC also ordered Bihar’s government to report on “medical facilities, nutrition, sanitation and hygiene conditions” in the state.
Lawyers for the Bihar government told the court that the crisis was now under control.
More than 1,350 children have died from the syndrome in the past decade, including 355 in 2014.
AES is an inflammation of the brain, affecting mostly undernourished children under 10.
The precise causes of the syndrome are not known, but health experts say a toxin in unripe lychee fruit — which is grown abundantly in Bihar — causes blood sugar levels to plummet in malnourished children, affecting the brain.