Two children died Saturday, a day after they were administered vaccination against Japanese encephalitis (JE) as well as measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district, 70km north of Patna.
Nine more children were taken ill after the vaccination at Patori village in Aurai police station area, 39 km north east of Muzaffarpur. After initial treatment, they had been referred to Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital (SKMCH), Muzaffarpur, Aurai police station SHO Amarendra Kumar told HT over phone.
Kumar said 13 children were administered the vaccination by auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM) Pramila Kumari and Anganwadi sevika Parvati Kumari, both trained health workers, around 10 am on Friday. In the evening, 11 of them developed symptoms of vomiting, diarrhoea and fever, he said, adding that Raja Babu, 9 months, and Sonu Kumar, one–and-half-year old, died in the wee hours of Saturday.
Anshu Kumar, 1, Deepak Kumar, 9, Rohit Kumar, 2, Punita Kumari, 5 months, Nisha Kumari, 7 months, Kusum, 6 months, Manish, 3 months and Ayush, 1, were undergoing treatment at SKMCH, he added.
Aurai primary health centre (PHC) in-charge Dr RN Sharma, who was camping at Patori, said vaccines were sent to various villages from the PHC in ice boxes for immunization. “It is a matter of inquiry why children of Patori fell sick after being administered the vaccine. We have received no such complaint from any other village,” he added.
SKMCH superintendent Dr GK Thakur said the nine sick children brought to the hospital were out of danger.
Muzaffarpur district magistrate (DM) Dharmendra Singh told HT that the vaccination drive had been launched in Aurai, Meenapur, Kanti and some other JE-affected blocks as part of the routine immunisation programme. MMR vaccines were also administered as a precautionary measure, he said.
The DM quoted SKMCH doctors as saying that fever after immunisation was very common and the children who had been admitted there had been given paracetamol. The doctors had said that the death of two children, who had developed symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea, could be due to dehydration as they were not taken to the PHC on time, Singh added.
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Singh, who was on way to Patori, said the exact cause of death would be ascertained only after post-mortem examination. A team of experts from Patna were on way to Muzaffarpur to inquire into the matter, the DM added.
JE, a disease that spreads through mosquito bites, has been preying on malnourished children with low immunity in Muzaffarpur district since 1994. Its symptoms usually take five to 15 days to develop and include fever, headache, vomiting, confusion, and difficulty moving.
More than 1000 children have died in Muzaffarpur since the disease first broke out in an epidemic form.