As Bihar fights with Encephalitis, cautious Odisha orders testing of litchis

Odisha orders testing of litchis

New Delhi, News24 Bureau, June 19: After the Encephalitis outbreak in Bihar which has taken lives of more than 140 innocent kids now the neighbouring state Odisha has set an alarm bell. It now orders testing of luscious litchis.

Amid the outbreak of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Bihar which claimed scores of lives so far, Odisha Health Minister Naba Kishore Das has directed officials to ascertain toxic content in litchi fruit being sold in the state.

The directive has come in the wake of reports that encephalitis is spreading in litchi growing areas of Bihar, including Muzaffarpur district and other parts of the country and that consumption of the fruit was among the factors for the spread of the disease.

The Department of Health and Family Welfare asked the Food Commissioner to collect and test the sample of Litchi being sold in the market.Earlier, Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey had said a team that was formed to ascertain the cause of Encephalitis concluded that sleeping on an empty stomach at night, dehydration due to humidity and eating litchi on an empty stomach were some of the causes of the disease.

Encephalitis is a viral disease, which causes mild flu-like symptoms such as high fever, convulsions, and headache.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, at last after 19 days, found time to visit the ailing and dying children due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in Bihar's Muzaffarpur; the toll now crosses 140. There has been a health crisis in the state and the deaths are mostly occurring in the Northern part of Bihar and the children belong to the very poor families.

There was a big rush when Nitish Kumar visited the hospital. The aggrieved and agitated relatives of the patients wanted to meet their chief minister. Some had sheets of medical reports clutched in their fists, some wailing and crying mothers were desperate to talk to their CM as if their god has come and he will now save their dying children.  Their restlessness soon converted into a protest and within minutes their yearning looks changed into harsh and loud slogans of "Go back chief minister".

A scathing attack was made against the chief minister by former chief minister and RJP supremo Lalu Yadav's wife Rabri Devi. She alleged that the chief minister was sleeping when the press conference on the increasing deaths in Muzaffarpur was taking place. Where is the Ayushman Yojana, she asked.