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LUCKNOW, India - An outbreak of mosquito-borne Japanese encephalitis has killed at least 79 children in a north Indian state over the past week, with dozens of other children in serious condition, officials said Thursday.
Local newspapers reported that the death toll could be much higher, as many casualties were going unreported.
"The government is talking about the death of children in government hospitals. What about the children who died in private nursing homes or in villages without medicines?" asked Dr. Radha Mohan Agarwal, an opposition lawmaker and a leading pediatrician in Gorakhpur, the largest city in the worst-affected eastern flank of Uttar Pradesh state.
The latest 16 deaths were reported from the previously-unaffected districts of Unnao and Balrampur of Uttar Pradesh state, where hospitals were treating more than 1,500 patients, said provincial health chief OP Singh.
The worst-hit district of Gorakhpur near Nepal's border has reported 392 deaths since late July, when encephalitis hit Uttar Pradesh, Singh said in the state capital, Lucknow, adding that children were the main victims.
He said the latest casualties suggested the disease, which is transmitted through mosquito bites, had spread to 25 of the state's 70 districts.
The state's chief microbiologist, TN Dhole, who returned today after leading a scientists' team to Gorakhpur, painted a bleak picture of the situation in the remote area 250 km south-east of Lucknow.
"It is catastrophic," he said. "The toll must be much, much higher because the government is only taking into account the deaths reported in state-run hospitals.
LUCKNOW, India (AFP) - The official death toll from Japanese encephalitis passed 500 in northern India where more than 2,000 children were fighting for their lives against the mosquito-borne disease.
All but three of the dead were children, according to official figures.
At least 40 more deaths were reported in the past 24 hours in Uttar Pradesh adding to a previous toll of 468, health officials said on Wednesday
Death Toll Now Over 500
"We are collecting figures from various agencies in the field and our estimate is that between 1,000 and 1,500 children are dead," she told AFP.
KUSHINAGAR, India - When Nand Kishore Sharma learns that his 7-year-old daughter could have been saved from her painful death by a $1 vaccine, he just shrugs. People in this remote, impoverished corner of India are used to being overlooked.
The Sharmas are victims of the worst Japanese encephalitis outbreak in recent memory. More than 1,100 people — most of them children — have died in India's Uttar Pradesh state and neighboring Nepal.
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