NEW DELHI: Amidst rising cases of encephalitis, a vector borne disease, in Bihar, the union ministry of health and family welfare Tuesday constituted a multi-specialist high level team to tackle the situation.

The government has looped in experts drawn from National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), National Vector Borne Diseases Control Program (NVBDCP), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and All India Institute of Medical Sciences(AIIMS), Patna and Child Health Division of the health ministry are part of the central team and will review the surge in cases of encephalopathy or encephalitis and to assist the state in containment and control operations.

Harsh Vardhan, union minister of health and family welfare, on Tuesday reviewed the status of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Muzaffarpur and Japanese Encephalitis (JE) in Gaya in Bihar.

AES is a group of medical conditions that affect the brain. It is caused by a wide range of viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. JE is a mosquito-borne disease caused by the Japanese encephalitis virus and spread primarily by the Culex mosquito. JE is an infection of the brain caused by the Japanese encephalitis virus, its symptoms may include headache, vomiting, fever, confusion, and seizures.

JE, the most common form of viral encephalitis occurs periodically in endemic areas leading to high mortality and neurological deficits in survivors, the union health ministry said in a statement.

"I met Health Minister of Bihar Mangal Pandey and have assured him full support and assistance by the Health Ministry. A multi-specialist high level team has been constituted by the Health Ministry and deployed to Bihar. The team will reach Bihar tomorrow. This is in addition to a Central Team which is already stationed in Muzaffarpur. They have visited various hospitals to assess the situation and support the State government," said Harsh Vardhan.

The newly constituted central team consists of Ram Singh, joint director and in-charge, NCDC-Patna; Saurabh Goel, Asst. director, integrated disease surveillance programme (IDSP), NCDC-Delhi; Poonam Vellamuri, entomologist, NVBDCP; Lokesh Tiwari, associate professor , paediatrics, AIIMS-Patna; Arun Singh, national advisor, Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK), child health division, union health ministry; and Krishna Pandey, scientist from Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Science (RMRC), Patna.

“Health Ministry is also coordinating with the Ministry of Women and Child Development for distribution of nutritious food with glucose in the meals to prevent development of AES," said Harsh Vardhan.

Currently, Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital, Muzaffarpur, has 22 admitted cases of fever, hypoglycemia and unconsciousness of which 11 cases have been admitted on Tuesday. No death has been reported due to hypoglycemia, on Tuesday, the health ministry statement said. From January 2019, altogether 48 cases of AES have been reported with 11 deaths in Bihar.

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