Encephalitis, also known as acute viral encephalitis or aseptic encephalitis. It is an inflammatory condition of the brain which results in irritation and swelling of the brain. In June 2019 an outbreak of encephalitis was reported in Muzaffarpur district in Bihar and the death toll was 150, caused due to hypoglycemia. This fever was locally known as chamki fever in Bihar and is also termed as Litchi Havoc, killer encephalitis, Chamki Bhukar and Deadly Litchi Toxin. Also Read: Monkey Fever: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment And Prevention
A rare but serious condition, chamki fever mostly affects children between the age group 1-10 years. The exact cause of this fever is not clear, however poor nutrition, climatic changes, hygiene, unhealthy environment, lack of proper health amenities and lack of awareness are some of the contributing factors.
Encephalitis or chamki fever generally affects the central nervous system, children and young adults are at high risk. It is often distinguished with acute-onset of fever which disrupts neurological functions resulting in mental disturbance, seizure, confusion etc., The epidemic period of chamki fever usually begins between April to June and affects children who are malnourished and those who often visit litchi orchids. Also Read: Encephalitis: Causes, Signs, Symptoms And Treatment
Prevent Yourself From Infectious Diseases By Maintaining Hygiene. Choose From Our Wide Range Of Handwashes And Sanitizers!
Evidence has revealed that the outbreak of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome or chamki fever in eastern and north India was associated with children consuming unripe litchi fruit on empty stomach. Toxins such as hypoglycin A and methylene-cyclopropyl glycine (MCPG) found in an unripe fruit when ingested in huge quantities causing vomiting and may also result in a sudden drop in blood glucose level accompanied by high fever and seizures which needs immediate hospitalization especially in malnourished children.
Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) is an inflammation of the brain caused due to infection in the brain or the immune system invading the brain.
The causative agents of chamki fever are microorganisms like viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites, and chemical toxins. In India, encephalitis was mainly linked with the Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV) and more cases were also reported caused by other viruses such as Nipah virus and enteroviruses.
Some of the common symptoms associated with chamki fever include sudden onset of fever and related neurological manifestations like mental confusion, disorientation, delirium, convulsion and coma. Besides, early signs and symptoms include headaches, nausea and vomiting, a sudden drop in blood glucose levels, which may eventually lead to coma, brain dysfunctions and inflammation. In most cases, severe hypoglycemia is the cause of mortality.
Patients suffering from chamki fever should be given prompt medical care. The mode of treatment for chamki fever includes taking antiviral and anti-inflammatory medications and steroid injections to lessen body pain, headaches and ease the symptoms associated with fever.
Intravenous glucose infusion is also given during chamki fever attack to normalize the blood sugar levels. Adequate rest, plenty of fluids and a well-balanced and nutritious diet are recommended to correct malnutrition and deficiencies.
Most cases of chamki fever get cured in a few days, but severe forms may take a few weeks to get completely resolved.
Getting a vaccination is the safest and effective measure to prevent the spreading of chamki fever. Other effective measures which can avert chamki fever caused due to virus attack include:
- Using mosquito repellants
- Wearing long-sleeved clothes
- Proper hygiene and sanitation
- Washing hands with soap and water after using the toilet and before handling the food