Context: Recently,the Health minister of India assured all support to the State Government of Bihar for the containment and management of the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) cases.

More about the news:

  • Health ministry is constantly monitoring the situation and is in regular touch with the State health authorities for managing the AES situation in the state.
  • The Union Health Ministry has noted  that in a particular time during summer from May 15 to the month of June, there is always a hike in the rate of death of young children due to AES in Bihar.


About Acute encephalitis syndrome (AES)

  • It is a serious public health problem in India. 
  • It is characterized as acute-onset of fever and a change in mental status (mental confusion, disorientation, delirium, or coma) and/or new-onset of seizures in a person of any age at any time of the year. 
  • The disease most commonly affects children and young adults and can lead to considerable morbidity and mortality.
  • Viruses are the main causative agents in AES cases, although other sources such as bacteria, fungus, parasites, spirochetes, chemicals, toxins and noninfectious agents have also been reported over the past few decades.
  • Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is the major cause of AES in India (ranging from 5%-35%).
  • AES due to JEV was clinically diagnosed in India for the first time in 1955 in the southern State of Madras, now Tamil Nadu. 
  • AES cases were reported mainly from Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh.

Way ahead

  • Involving specialist organisations:
    • Apart from constitution of the Committee of Experts for daily monitoring the situation, there is an immediate need for constituting a inter-disciplinary specialist high-level team of experts drawn from 
      • National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), 
      • National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), 
      • Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), AIIMS, Patna.
  • Preventive, pre-emptive and comprehensive measures to prevent the disease by taking a systematic approach.
  • Improvements in medical infrastructure:
    • There is a need to ensure that new pediatric ICUs are immediately made functional for such illness.
    • Providing adequate medical facilities with at least 10 bedded pediatric ICUs in nearby districts;
    • Making available the ambulance services during the peak hours of 10.00 PM to 08.00 AM when most of the children get symptoms of AES like fever, seizures, altered sensorium etc.
    • Expediting the work of setting up new super specialty hospitals .
  • Training and capacity development:
    • Preparing doctors, paramedical and health force to take up the challenge especially during peak hours;