BHUBANESWAR: After the death of 96 children in Malkangiri, the Odisha government today came to the conclusion that Japanese Encephalitis (JE) was not the only killer in the tribal-dominated district and that 64 kids succumbed to Encephalopathy.
While 32 children died of JE, 64 kids succumbed to Encephalopathy which is mostly caused due to consumption of seeds of 'Bana Chakunda' (Cassia Occidentalis). The state government's claim was based on the findings of the central expert team headed by Jacob Jonn.
"Anthraquinone is the suspected toxin found in a plant called 'Bana Chakunda' in Odia or Cassia Occidentalis. We found toxin from the urine sample of a few tested children, which indicates that the children ate seeds of the plant," Jonn told reporters here. Jonn said Encephalopathy is a disease that affects brain,liver, heart and muscle. Health secretary Arti Ahuja also admitted the cause of children death is Encephalopathy.
The interim report of the expert committee has found that although Odisha had not been traditionally considered a JE endemic state, in the past few years, the occurrence of JE/AES cases in different parts of the state has been documented,Ahuja said. She said, in addition to JE, encephalopathy mimicking encephalitis was also detected this year in Malkangiri.
"In some cases children with acute encephalopathy in Malkangiri have close similarity with encephalopathy found in western UP districts, particularly in terms of biochemical signals of severe liver and muscle pathology," the report said.
The committee also recommended further investigation into relative contributions of JE and encephalopathy along with other causes that might affect the central nervous system.