Cause of viral infection still unknown; primary diagnosis is encephalopathy

A six-member team from the city’s School of Tropical Medicine visited the Malda Medical College and Hospital on Sunday where eight children died of a mysterious viral infection. The cause of viral infection is still unknown.

According to hospital authorities, six more children, aged between two to four years, are admitted with the same complaint.

Blood and stool samples and throat swabs of children showing symptoms of the infection had been collected, said Health department Assistant Director Dipankar Majhi. The primary diagnosis of the children affected with the infection is encephalopathy, Mr. Majhi told the journalists.

Encephalopathy is the inflammation of the brain and is mostly caused due to viral infections.

The deaths of children occurred between Thursday and Saturday.

M.A. Rashid, superintendent of the Malda Medical College and Hospital, said on Saturday that the children complained of sudden vomiting and soon developed fever, headache and convulsions.

The children collapsed soon after they were brought to the hospital. The viral infection causes sudden death and all its victims did not experience any long-term illness, Mr. Rashid said on Saturday. However, on Sunday he refused to talk to press saying that the Health department asked him to refrain from commenting.

While the media reported that the infection spread from lichi fruit, experts refused to support the theory.

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