AES toll rises to 115; PIL filed in HC seeking direction to state govt

Muzaffarpur/Patna: The death toll due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) rose to 115 in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district on Wednesday, as a Public Interest Litigation was filed in the Patna High Court urging it to direct the state government to take adequate action to contain the outbreak.

The Muzaffarpur administration updated the toll reported at the SKMCH hospital to 95 from 93, a figure released in the morning. At the privately-owned Kejriwal hospital, the number of deceased patients remained at 19 with no fresh casualties being reported in over 24 hours. One child died in East Champaran district on Tuesday.

The total number of AES-afflicted children said to be under treatment at the two facilities was stated to be 166, of which 138 are at the SKMCH.

The total number of AES cases registered so far at the two hospitals was 535 — 383 at SKMCH and 152 at Kejriwal hospital.

Meanwhile, a Public Interest Litigation was on Wednesday filed in the Patna High Court seeking directions to the Bihar government for taking adequate action to contain the outbreak.

The petition was filed by Muzaffarpur-based lawyer Sudhir Ojha.

The petitioner has named the state government through the Chief Secretary and officials like Principal Secretaries of Health and Child Welfare departments besides District Magistrate and Civil Surgeon of Muzaffarpur as respondents in the petition.

In his petition, Ojha has also prayed for direction to the respondent authorities to take hard legal steps against those found guilty of laxity in discharge of their duty in controlling the outbreak.

He also urged the court to issue directions for setting up of a special medical team to prevent the disease as well as detect the root cause.

In his petition, Ojha has also put the number of casualties so far at 135 and added, appending newspaper cuttings to his petition to support the claim, that more than 100 children are still struggling.

A Muzaffarpur resident has already filed a petition at a local court against Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, his deputy Sushil Modi, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Minister of State Ashwini Choubey and state Health Minister Mangal Pandey.

Mohd Nasim has accused them of negligence. The chief judicial magistrate court has posted the matter for hearing next Tuesday.

Considering the large number of patients in Muzaffarpur, doctors are being mobilised from neighbouring districts there.

A release by the state health department said 11 medical officers posted in Darbhanga, Supaul and Madhubani had been instructed to leave for Muzaffarpur immediately to help the local health authorities in tackling the outbreak.

Three paediatricians posted in other districts have also been pressed into service, while 12 nurses have been directed to report to the the civil surgeon of Muzaffarpur.