AIIMS Delhi to find out cause of AES listed in ‘unknown category’

New Delhi: With the epidemical breakout of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Bihar, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi will soon study the actual cause behind the AES syndrome which is listed under ‘unknown category’.

The project is scheduled to begin next month is funded by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and India Infrastructure Finance Company Limited (IIFCL) as part of CSR activity.

Center of Excellence & Advanced Research For Childhood Neurodevelopmental Disorders, AIIMS, will be looking after 11 projects to find out how these acute and sub-acute AES syndromes are caused.In the study, chronic encephalopathy/encephalitis syndrome affecting children from 1 month to 18 years of age will be the focus.

Professor Sheffali Gulati, Chief of Child Neurology Division, Department of Paediatrics AIIMS, said, “We have to treat the cases of AES as following the disease, every year mortality rate goes high. This study would help us to know the exact cause behind this.” “We will be doing a plethora of tests and cover most of the viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites and autoimmune disorders. To deal with cases caused by intake of Litchi, we may add a metabolic screen to understand the aetiology comprehensively,” Dr Gulati said.

Comprehensive profile study is crucial because as patients coming to AIIMS with AES are not only from Delhi or Bihar but also include the SAARC region, he added.

“The cases of AES might be linked to litchi but the disease can be caused by a whole plethora of infections and encelophaty situations,” he said.

Children, who are getting affected due to AES, are mostly malnourished, he stressed.

“Children of litchi pickers go to the field and eat the unripe fruit. Unripe litchis contain toxins that can cause extremely low blood sugar. They do not have glycogen reserve. The hot weather adds to the loss of water in litchis,” Gulati said.

In this particular project, viruses including dengue, chikungunya, malaria, herpes, Japanese B encephalitis, meningitis, E coli, H influenza, pneumonia etc will be studied.

As per the latest official figure, 128 children died due to AES in Bihar this year, highest since 1993.