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Encephalitis, Gorakhpur's killer disease: Symptoms, treatment and causes

The disease has claimed 40,000 kids the past four decades in the district

Surbhi Gloria Singh 

Encephalitis kills 30 kids in Gorakhpur: Know symptoms, treatment, causes
More than 60 children have died at Gorakhpur's Baba Raghav Das Medical College due to various reasons, among them infections arising out of encephalitis and lack of oxygen supply. Photo: Reuters

Over the past five days, more than 60 children have died at Gorakhpur's Baba Raghav Das Medical College due to various reasons, among them infections arising out of and lack of oxygen supply. Seven persons have died in the past few weeks due to Japanese in Manipur, while, 83 others are currently undergoing treatment in hospitals.

What is
According to, is an inflammation of the brain tissue. Although viruses are the most common source of infection, bacteria, fungi, parasites, chemicals, and autoimmune reactions (limbic encephalitis) can also be responsible for

What is Japanese

Japanese (JE) is a disease spread through mosquito bites. Symptoms usually take 5-15 days to develop and include fever, headache, vomiting, confusion, and difficulty moving. Symptoms that develop later include swelling around the brain and coma. JE is a serious disease that may cause death.

Some patients may have symptoms of a cold or stomach infection before symptoms begin. When a case of is not very severe, the symptoms may be similar to those of other illnesses, including:
* Mild fever 
* Slight headache
* Low energy levels and a poor appetite

Other symptoms include:
* Clumsiness, unsteady gait
* Confusion, disorientation
* Drowsiness
* Irritability or poor temper control
* Light sensitivity
* Stiff neck and back (occasionally)
* Vomiting
generally begins with fever and headache. The symptoms rapidly worsen, and there may be seizures (fits), confusion, drowsiness, and loss of consciousness, and even coma. 

can be life-threatening, but this is rare.

Signs and symptoms in infants

Initially, is harder to detect in young children and babies. Parents or guardians should look out for vomiting, a bulging fontanel (the soft area on the top center of the head), incessant crying that does not get better when the baby is picked up and comforted, and body stiffness.
— Body stiffness
— Irritability and crying more often (these symptoms may get worse when the baby is picked up)
— Poor feeding
— Soft spot on the top of the head may bulge out more
— Vomiting
— Emergency symptoms:
— Loss of consciousness, poor responsiveness, stupor, coma
— Muscle weakness or paralysis
— Seizures
— Severe headache
Causes of encephalitis

can develop as a result of a direct infection to the brain by a virus, bacterium, or fungus (infectious encephalitis, or primary encephalitis), or when the immune system responds to a previous infection; the immune system mistakenly attacks brain tissue (secondary encephalitis, or post-infectious encephalitis).

In more than 50 percent of cases, the exact cause of the illness is not tracked down.

When to contact a medical professional

Patients must rush to medical professionals in case of sudden fever and other symptoms of encephalitis


According to guidelines issued by Apollo Hospitals: 
— Treatment for mild cases, which may be mistaken as the flu, mainly consists of:

— Complete bed rest

— Increased fluid intake

— Anti-inflammatory drugs— such as Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen and Naproxen Sodium to reduce headaches and temperature

- Prevention

— Children and adults should avoid contact with anyone who has

— Controlling mosquitoes (a mosquito bite can transmit some viruses) may reduce the chance of some infections that can lead to

— Apply an insect repellant

— Remove any sources of standing water (such as old tires, cans, gutters, and wading pools).

— Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when outside, particularly at dusk.

— Vaccinate animals to prevent caused by the rabies virus.


Three months back a massive campaign for prevention of the deadly disease was carried out in Gorakhpur division. Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh first raised the issue of in 1998 in Parliament. Between May 25 and June 11 this year, the CM launched an immunisation drive that was conducted in 38 eastern UP districts. Children up to 15 years of age were included in this campaign.

Over 40,000 people have died due to in the division in the last four decades. Though vaccines are available for Japanese Encephalitis, there is no such vaccine for checking acute syndrome (AES) and better hygiene is the only way to ward it off.

First Published: Sat, August 12 2017. 12:48 IST