Dozens of children have been admitted to a state-run hospital in Uttar Pradesh's Gorakhpur district with symptoms of encephalitis.
The disease first came to India in 1978. Thousands of children have since succumbed to encephalitis and those who survived are either physically disabled or mentally unsound.
Advertisement"It is not the season for the disease, yet 210 patients have been treated so far. This is negligence on the part of the government, because it does not affect the people in Delhi, Bangalore and bigger cities and people who travel in aeroplanes, have political connections, or are rich, but affects the poor and the backward classes. Therefore, neither the central government nor the state government is unaffected by it," said Dr Radha Mohan Das Aggarwal, a local politician.
Cases of encephalitis are expected to increase with the arrival of monsoon and may continue till December.
"The most important thing is awareness among the people. Hygiene is necessary because Japanese encephalitis is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is a need to control mosquito growth and ensure personal hygiene. Japanese encephalitis can thus be reduced," said Dr A K Pandey, Research Officer at the National Institute of Virology.
According to specialists, the vaccine for encephalitis should be administered around three months before the monsoons, but the administration has not taken up such a step so far.
In 2006, the government had launched an encephalitis vaccination campaign but only a few children were benefited by the campaign.
Encephalitis generally affects children between the ages of one and 15 years.