News | October 25, 2006

Child Deaths Soar as Mosquito-Borne Viruses Plague India

Forty children died from encephalitis in the past fortnight in India, taking the overall toll to 262 in two months amid nationwide outbreaks of other mosquito-borne viruses, health officials have said. "Two more children died of encephalitis overnight. The toll now is 262," senior health official Umakant Prasad told AFP Thursday in northern Uttar Pradesh state, adding the majority were children.

Another 64 children were being treated for Japanese encephalitis in the state's hospitals. Encephalitis spreads to humans from pigs via mosquitoes, and is rampant in the rainy season in northern India, which ends in October.

Meanwhile, nationwide more than 9,000 people were suffering from mosquito-borne dengue and chikungunya diseases. A dengue outbreak has claimed 129 lives so far, mainly in northern India. There have been no deaths from chikungunya, although more than 1,600 people were reported to have caught the virus.

Mosquito-borne illnesses affect tens of thousands of Indians during the rainy season.

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