Nepalgunj, August 23:

Japanese encephalitis that has been spreading rapidly across Banke has claimed 21 lives in the past week. Another 75 patients are undergoing treatment in three hospitals. The disease has claimed nine lives in Rupandehi in the past week. According to Nanda Lal Shrestha, a medical officer at Bheri Zonal Hospital, among 91 patients admitted to the hospital, 15 had died, 43 were still undergoing treatment while 33 had been discharged. Among the dead, four were children, he said. Three other encephalitis patients died in Medical College Teaching Hospital, Kohalpur while one was discharged. Ram Mani Subedi, Statistics Assistant at the hospital said 21 patients, mostlychi-ldren, had been cured out of 29 admitted. Three more people succumbed to the disease in Nepalgunj Teaching Hospita. According to Administration Assistant, Krishna BC, 11 patients had been cured; 18 others had been discharged while five were referred to other hospitals.

Banke’s acting chief of District Health Office Ram Kumar Kumal said there were fewer encephalitis cases this year as compared to previous years. In August last year, 42 people had died of encephalitis. Lack of vaccines and medicines had excecerbated the situation, he said. Locals complained that anti-encephalitis vaccine campaign had not been run this year.

But Kumal claimed anti-encephalitis disinfectants had been sprayed. Another report from Rupandehi district said nine people had been killed in the past week due to encephalitis and another 50 patients, termed ‘serious’, were undergoing treatment in the four district hospitals.