The death toll due to suspected Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) has touched 73 in Bihar's Muzaffarpur this month, Dr. Shailesh Prasad Singh, Civil Surgeon, Muzaffarpur, confimed on Saturday.
However, government officials still maintain that most of the children died due to hypoglycemia, a condition caused by a very low level of blood sugar and electrolyte imbalance.
These children have died in two hospitals of Muzaffarpur, one of which was visited by state Health Minister Mangal Pandey during the day.
Pandey on Saturday said the state was doing everything possible to mitigate the loss of lives.
"From medicines to doctors, everything is being made available. We have even called a doctor and nurses from AIIMS, Patna, too" he told news agency ANI.
A statement issued by Muzaffarpur district administration said that till 6 pm on Friday, six children died in the state-run Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) while three died at Kejriwal hospital, which is operated by a trust.
Since June 1, 178 and 72 children were admitted in SKMCH and Kejriwal hospital respectively with suspected cases of AES but most of them were found to be victims of hypoglycemia.
Nine children undergoing treatment at SKMCH are serious, the release said, adding that five children are critical in Kejriwal hospital.
The health minister who held a meeting with doctors and officials at the SKMCH said six more ambulances will be available there from Friday and a 100-bed new ward will be made operational soon.
The Kejriwal Hospital's management also agreed to increase the number of beds if the need arises, he said.
Pandey said creating awareness among the people is needed to prevent the outbreak of the disease.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has already directed the officials concerned to ensure that preventive measures were taken in the affected districts, though deaths have so far
been reported from Muzaffarpur only.
Health Department's Principal Secretary Sanjay Kumar had earlier said the disease has affected 222 blocks of 12 districts especially Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Sheohar and
A central government team of experts had visited Muzaffarpur on Wednesday.
(With inputs from agencies)