Hundreds die in encephalitis outbreak

A woman attends to a child, believed to have type of encephalitis, in a hospital in Muzaffarpur earlier this year in June.

Story highlights

  • Some 30 to 35 people are being diagnosed daily with the infection in the Gorakhpur district
  • Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain
  • It is primarily caused by food and drink contamination and mosquito bites
  • The very young and the elderly are more likely to have a severe case
At least 435 patients, mostly children, have died this year from encephalitis in one of India's most impoverished regions, health officials said.
Most of the deaths happened between August and September, according to K.P. Kushwaha, chief pediatrician at BRD Medical College and Nehru Hospital in Uttar Pradesh state's Gorakhpur district.
Some 30 to 35 people are being diagnosed daily with the infection in Gorakhpur, he said. The outbreaks are common in the district, near India's border with Nepal.
Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain, primarily caused by food and drink contamination and mosquito bites. The very young and the elderly are more likely to have a severe case, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
As many as 500 people died last year in the region from the disease, Kushwaha said.
In 2009, India reported 774 fatalities from encephalitis, including 556 in Uttar Pradesh, federal data shows.