32 children die of Encephalitis in Odisha

Bhubaneswar, Nov 18 (IANS) At least 32 children have died of Japanese Encephalitis in Odisha, which occurs by consuming “bada chakunda” beans, experts said.

A total of 96 deaths have been reported in Malkangiri district of the state. Of thes, 32 children died of encephalitis, and the remaining 64 due to other reasons, including Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES), according to the state government.

According to an expert team which visited the district Encephalopahty disease was found in Malkangiri.

“Consumption of beans of Cassia occidentalis, locally known as ‘bada chakunda’, may be the reason behind continuing deaths in the area,” said Jacob John, who headed the team.

According to him, consumption of these beans can cause severe childhood illnesses with acute hepato-myo-encephalopathy syndrome.

In some cases, children with acute encephalopathy in the tribal dominated district have close similarity with \Encephalopathy found in western Uttar Pradesh districts.

However, the expert team has called for further investigation into relative contributions of Japanese Encephalitis and Encephalopahty along with other causes that may affect central nervous system.

Health Secretary Arti Ahuja said the state government was taking all possible steps to curb the disease.

Ahuja said that 96 deaths were reported in 180 villages and Malkangiri municipality area while 229 cases were discharged from hospital after complete recovery.