Japanese encephalitis has afflicted at least 83 children in West Bengal in the last fortnight, said director of state health services, Biswaranjan Satpathy.
So far, the deadly disease has claimed more than 50 lives in the seven affected districts. The North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH) has been flooded with patients complaining of encephalitis symptoms in Darjeeling District.
"Particularly, from 7th July itself, and they are coming now, till now 83 cases out of 344 have been detected as Japanese encephalitis and other are due to some other causes," said Satpathy.
Fever clinics have also been set up across the region to scan the incoming patients.
"Like establishment of fever clinics at different centres particularly in all the districts and sub-districts hospitals of those seven districts of north Bengal," added Satpathy.
Encephalitis is an acute inflammation of the brain and can be caused by both viral and bacterial infections. Japanese encephalitis, which is caused by the Japanese encephalitis virus, is more prevalent in the region than other forms of the illness.
Symptoms include high fever, convulsion and frigidity around the neck area.
The mosquito-borne disease can cause fever, convulsions and coma and is more likely to kill children than adults.
The virus affects membranes around the brain and usually causes mild symptoms, but can lead to high fever, brain damage, coma and death. It is the leading cause of childhood encephalitis and viral encephalitis in Asia.