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Archive for July, 2012


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Crisis in Bihar: Encephalitis Outbreak Targets Bihar’s Most Vulnerable

By Jason Motz

Since May, an encephalitis epidemic has ravaged Bihar, India.  If the plight of Bihar’s children has not been a focal point of the western media, it should be. To date at least 251 child deaths have been reported. Numbers like that are hard to visualize from a western point of view where encephalitis is much less common and more treatable.

Encephalitis is a swelling of the brain brought on by a viral infection. The swelling can lead to bleeding or hemorrhaging in the brain, or even severe brain damage. Newborns are the most vulnerable to encephalitis.

There are numerous causes for encephalitis, according to the US National Library of Medicine. Autoimmune diseases, rabies, parasites, bacteria are some of the common triggers. The infection can occur through insect bites, drinking or eating contaminated food, or exposure to an infected person.

In severe cases the afflicted may suffer from seizures, muscle weakness, amnesia or coma. There are treatments for encephalitis including antiviral and anti-seizure medications, but a catchall cure is still to be found. However, in Bihar, where medical resources such as antiviral vaccines and facilities for treatment are limited, encephalitis can be a death sentence.

The likelihood of the epidemic claiming more lives is very strong and is just one example of the many health issues plaguing Bihar. This why Paper Kite uses donor contributions for the purchase and the delivery of much needed medical supplies. This is one of many reasons why Paper Kite is committed to improving the health and welfare of children as part of the Millennium Development Goals laid out by the United Nations (UN).

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