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The deaths which shook Gorakhpur

The death of more than 60 children in a few days has not just shook the Gorakhpur but entire nation. The reason behind so many deaths is unclear and a committee is being set to enquire the whole episode. Victim’s family is alleging that it is due to lack of oxygen supply and administrative negligence that their children had to suffer. At the same time, CM Yogi Adiyanath has denied the cause of lack of oxygen but has highlighted Japanese Encephalitis to be the cause.

Japanese Encephalitis

  • It is a mosquito-borne viral infection of the brain. The origin of the disease is not clear and there exist a doubt whether it is caused by enteroviruses —the virus which is found in pigs and birds. There exists no cure for JE.
  • It is found in many parts of India and bulk of deaths is reported from four states of Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, West Bengal.
  • Although vaccine exists for its treatment but it won’t eradicate the disease in the short span of time. The efficacy of the JE vaccine is between 85-90%.
  • JE is a kind of encephalitis which comes under a spectrum of diseases called ‘Acute Encephalitis Syndrome’ (AES).

Why it is endemic in eastern U.P.:

  • Lack of infrastructure.
  • No clear data on disease burden.
  • Lack of access to clean water and toilets.
  • No specific research on this has not been supported by the government so far, despite decades of annual outbreaks.
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