What is Encephalitis or Chamki Fever? Know its Signs, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Abha Toppo
Abha Toppo
chamki fever

Bihar is reeling under the tragedy of deaths of hundreds of children due to Encephalitis or Chamki fever since past few days. The death toll has now risen to 112 in the state. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar & Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi on 18th June 2019 visited Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) located in Muzaffarpur.

Nitish Kumar, who faced protests from the relatives of children, visited the hospital 2 weeks after the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) outbreak in Bihar. Meanwhile, health department of Bihar is yet to identify the exact cause of these deaths.

The disease has affected kids falling under the age group of 1 to 10 years. The maximum casualties have been reported from Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital, Muzaffarpur.

Union Health Minister, Harsh Vardhan has advocated setting up a research institute to identify the cause for the outbreak of Chamki fever / encephalitis. Around 12 districts of Bihar are under the grip of encephalitis, which includes Muzaffarpur, Vaishali & East Champaran.

What is Encephalitis?

Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) or Encephalitis mostly affects kids and young adults. It is an inflammation (swelling & irritation) of the brain. In most of the cases, a virus causes this inflammation. Encephalitis is characterised by the acute-onset of fever and can cause morbidity & mortality.

Who Gets Encephalitis?

Encephalitis is a rare disease and usually happens in children, old aged and people with a weakened immune system (HIV/AIDS, cancer).

Signs, Symptoms of Encephalitis or Chamki fever

The signs and symptoms in mild cases of encephalitis generally include:

  • Fever

  • Headache

  • Loss of energy

  • Poor appetite

  • General sick feeling

  • Severe cases of encephalitis can cause:

  • High fever

  • Bad headache

  • Nausea & vomiting

  • Stiff neck

  • Hallucinations

  • Personality changes

  • Problems with speech / hearing

  • Memory loss

  • Drowsiness

Causes of Encephalitis

3 groups of viruses are the common causes of encephalitis:

  • Herpes viruses like chickenpox, EBV (Epstein-Barr virus that causes mono) & herpes simplex (that causes cold sores).

  • Viruses & other germs spread by insects such as West Nile virus (mosquito bite) & germs which cause Lyme disease & Rocky Mountain spotted fever (tick bites).

  • Viruses which cause once-common childhood infections like measles, mumps & German measles.

Less often, chamki fever can be:

  • Caused by an infection from bacteria like bacterial meningitis

  • A complication of other infectious diseases such as syphilis

  • Due to a parasite such as toxoplasmosis in people with weakened immune systems

Treatment for Encephalitis or Chamki fever

  • Kids suffering from encephalitis or chamki fever need proper care in a hospital ICU (Intensive Care Unit) to avoid any kind of mishap. In hospitals, doctors keep an eye on their heart rate, blood pressure, breathing & body fluids to prevent further inflammation of brain.

  • Some form of encephalitis can be treated by giving Antiviral drugs.

  • To lessen swelling in the brain Corticosteroids are given.

  • Anticonvulsants can be given to kids having seizures.

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines such as acetaminophen can also help lower fever & headaches.

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen and Naproxen Sodium is also given to patients to reduce headaches and fever.

Most cases of encephalitis get cured within few days but serious cases take few weeks time.

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