BIHAR: Outbreak of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES)

In late June 2012, the state of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh were affected by Acute Encephalitis Syndrome(AES).  The symptomatic forms of disease leave neurological sequele or cause death in the severest cases. Japanese Encephalitis, one of the main diseases causing AES, is a viral infection  spread mainly through Culex  mosquito bites.  Children between  the age group 2 to 15 are the most vulnerable.

Since May 2012,  503 children had been hospitalized and 188 children have died due to the epidemic in the affected areas in Bihar where AIF carried out its intervention. Most of the reported cases and deaths were  in children belonging to low socioeconomic groups.

After carrying out a needs assessment  with the help  of Bihar Inter Agency Group (BIAG) and  local partners , AmeriCares India developed IEC materials and identified Muzaffarpur, Begusarai, Sitamari and Patna districts of the state as the ones requiring intervention. Mr. Neeraj Prasad, Manager: Emergency Response and Preparedness, visited these areas  in July 2012.

Five  volunteers were trained  on delivering IEC(Information, Education and Communication)  on AES to the village population affected by or susceptible to the syndrome. A plan was made to  disseminate this information  to ten thousand households with the help of leaflets containing information about the outbreak in simple, easy  to understand, local language. The IEC was carried out over the above mentioned  districts, covering four blocks, eight villages, six hospitals, eight schools and two NGOs. The intervention is assumed to be critical to  help prevent a similar outbreak, otherwise imminent, after the monsoons.  Increasing awareness about the spread, prevention and symptoms of the disease will help the hitherto unaware population prevent the cycle of transmission by personal protection. They will now in addition be able to identify the disease and take the patient to the hospital in time to prevent morbidity and mortality.

AmeriCares India's work was appreciated by the state government which directed the local authorities to aid the team in its work.

The effort, the team hopes, will help fulfill AmeriCares' vision of helping people live better, healthier lives.