New Delhi: While all other media houses highlighted how some compounds in the seed of the litchi fruit (sometimes also in the pulp) that could cause encephalitis, Sirf News campaigned against the shifting of the blame from the government’s incompetence to a fruit. As though taking a cue from the campaign, BJP MP from Bihar Rajiv Pratap Rudy on Friday urged the government to probe whether linking deaths of children due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in the state to consumption of litchis was part of a conspiracy to damage the brand name of the fruit.
Participating in a debate during the Zero Hour, Rudy said the situation in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur was worrisome.
“We are told that eating litchi by children in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur may because of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES). This is a conspiracy to damage the brand name of litchi… We are eating litchis since our childhood but we did not suffer from AES,” Rudy said.
The MP from Bihar’s Saran district further said that due to some misinformation many people have stopped eating litchi and drinking litchi juice.
“The government must probe if there is a conspiracy to harm the interest of Indian litchi farmers by linking the death of children due to AES in Muzaffarpur to the consumption of litchi,” he said.
More than 100 children have died in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district due to suspected AES.
Independent child specialist Arun Shah who formerly headed the Bihar chapter of Indian Association of Pediatrics on Wednesday had said that consumption of unripe litchi containing a high concentration of toxin could be behind the AES outbreak in Muzaffarpur.
However, medical opinion remains divided over the causes of the outbreak
The AES is a serious neurological illness that causes inflammation of the brain.
Participating in the debate, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said due to careless attitude of the state and union government, the situation in Bihar is not improving and poor kids are dying due to AES.
Chowdhury also pointed out that the ratio of patients and doctors is lowest in Bihar.
Last Sunday, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had visited patients of the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) and assured families of all possible help from the Centre.
While doctors have maintained that deaths occurred due to AES, state officials claim that most of the victims below the age of 10, died due to the hypoglycemia-a condition caused by a low level of blood sugar, electrolyte imbalance due to high temperature and extreme humidity.