Agency, 18 June : More than 100 children in the Indian state of Bihar – home to some of the country’s worst health indicators – have now been killed by a brain virus potentially linked to lychees, officials said.
The northern state, one of India’s poorest and home to almost 100 million people, is also in the throes of a major heat wave that is the country’s second-longest on record and has so far claimed 78 lives.
Bihar has been struggling with an outbreak of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) since the start of June.
Eighty-five children have now died in the state’s biggest government-run hospital – the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH), in the city of Muzaffarpur – and 18 others at a private facility, according to municipal officials cited by the Press Trust of India.
Most of the victims had suffered a sudden loss of glucose in their blood, health official Ashok Kumar Singh told AFP news agency.
Such outbreaks have happened annually during summer months in the same districts since 1995, typically coinciding with the lychee season.
Several years ago, US researchers had said the brain disease could be linked to a toxic substance found in the fruit.
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