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Encephalitis death in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur: What makes litchi lethal for children?

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Encephalitis death in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur

With more than 100 children’s deaths due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome(AES), commonly known as brain fever, Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district is in limelight for all the wrong reasons. Local people mostly of lower strata of society, who thrive on lush litchi orchards, have yet not come out from the state of shock and fear after losing their near and dear ones recently due to the viral disease.

There are different schools of thoughts for the cause of the disease leading to death of children mostly at Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital, where around 95 patients died. Some experts believe the death took place due to encephalitis while other believe that hypoglycaemia encephalopathy was the reason where patients’ get short supply of glucose.

Also read: Encephalitis Claims 100 lives in Bihar, Get to Know about the Scourge from our Experts

Litchi-The culprit

One may want to savour luscious litchis as the fruit must be the favourite to many. Though it is rich source of Vitamin C, it has its side effect as well if consumed empty stomach.

Bihar is the top litchi producing State which contributes about 40 percent total litchi production in the country. Muzaffarpur district is a major hub for growing litchi, which ripen at this time of year. Though lush litchi orchards are guarded by caretakers, children often eat unripe litchi which falls to the ground.

Toxin in litchi

It is being believed that natural toxins prove harmful to undernourished children. The toxin proves to be lethal if it is engulfed empty stomach. Experts advise that children should be convinced to take evening meal if he or she had eaten the fruit empty stomach.

Unconfirmed reports say that hypoglycin, a toxin found in the ackee fruit inhibits the body’s ability to synthesize glucose, leading to acute hypoglycemia, or low blood glucose levels.

As per some researchers lack of food (missing dinner) combined with toxins hypoglycin A and methylenecyclopropylglycine (MCPG) present in lychee seeds are the cause of the death, though that has yet to be officially confirmed. The delay in taking children to hospital and thus administering and correcting glucose levels is the cause of death.

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