MUZAFFARPUR: Nearly 17 frightened families have abandoned their homes in Harbanshpur village in Bihar’s Vaishali district after Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) claimed the lives of six children in the village. Other poor families that are unable to migrate have dispatched their children to faraway districts to save them from the clutches of the killer disease.
Most of the villagers are daily-wage workers who have exhausted all their earnings transporting their sick children from their village to Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) in Muzaffarpur. In many cases, the children did not even make it to the hospital and perished midway. Some of the parents did not have enough money left in hand to even perform the last rites of their beloved children.
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While authorities in state-run hospitals in Bihar are stretched beyond their capacity, angry villagers have no option but to vent their ire in the dry fields, wipe their tears and move on in search of greener pastures.
This is the current status of districts in Muzaffarpur and Vaishali in Bihar where the fast-spreading AES is giving parents of minor children sleepless nights.
Reena Devi from Harbanshpur village lost two children to the syndrome. She now clings to her surviving five-year-old like her life depended on it.
Root cause still a mystery
Since the syndrome’s root cause is still not known, precaution and containment are the only steps that can be taken for now, say experts.