What Is Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (Chamki Fever) - All you need to know

New Delhi: Members of leftist organisations stage a demonstration against Bihar government over deaths of children due to Japanese encephalitis in the state; in New Delhi on June 17, 2019.(Photo: IANS)
What Is Chamki Fever/Acute Encephalitis Syndrome

Chamki fever or encephalitis is an inflammatory condition of the brain resulting in a variety of associated symptoms. Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) causes an acute-onset of fever associated with headache and most commonly reported in children and young adults. This illness brings about an alarming rate of morbidity and mortality. The recent outbreak of chamki fever in Bihar resulted in over 100 deaths in Muzaffarpur and its adjoining regions in the state of Bihar, India. Most notably, the similar outbreak of chamki fever resulted in about 700 deaths in 2014. Predominantly, chamki fever affects children and young adults in the age group of 1 to 10. The name chamki bukhar means fever condition associated with a seizure. Reports say that chamki fever or AES has spread in over 12 districts of Bihar including Muzaffarpur, Vaishali and East Champaran with Muzaffarpur declared as the worst hit zone.

What is Chamki Fever or Acute Encephalitis Syndrome

Acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) or chamki fever is a highly serious public health problem in India. It manifests as an acute onset of fever and a seriously affected mental condition resulting in confusion, disorientation, delirium, or coma. The affected individual may experience seizures. Chamki fever can happen in any age and at any time of the year.

Muzaffarpur, Bihar and adjoining areas in Bihar are litchi producing districts. This disease mostly spreads far and wide in the months between April and June especially in children who are undernourished with a history of consuming litchis from the neighboring orchards.

Causes of Chamki fever or Acute Encephalitis Syndrome

Viruses are said to be the main agents causing AES. However, other sources like bacteria, fungus, chemicals, parasites, spirochetes, toxins, and some noninfectious agents have also been noted to cause chamki fever as studied over the past few decades.

Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is identified as the major cause of AES in India. The percentage of this agent ranges from 5-35 percent. Nipah virus and Zika virus are also said to be AES causing agents. In some cases.

The other agents causing chamki fever include Influenza A virus, simplex virus, mumps, dengue, West Parvovirus B4, Nile virus, Epstein-Barr virus Chandipura virus, measles, enteroviruses, scrub typhus, and S pneumonia.

Symptoms of chamki fever or Encephalitis

Some of the prominent and most common symptoms of chamki fever include High temperature, Headache, extreme sensitivity to light, stiff neck and back, nausea, and mental confusion. In severe cases of chamki fever, seizures and paralysis can result.

Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV)

As discussed so far, JEV is identified as the major cause of AES in India. This virus is spread by mosquitos and it is a kind of flavivirus. This virus belongs to the same genus like dengue, yellow fever, and West Nile viruses.

So far no cure has been discovered for chamki fever. The treatment available now focuses mainly on relieving the severe clinical symptoms found in the affected persons and supporting the patients to overcome the infective condition.

Treatment for chamki fever or Encephalitis

The affected persons must be treated immediately to avoid severe complications. The patients must be admitted to the Intensive Care unit or ICU to prevent any kinds of major mishaps.

Chamki fever can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs including Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen and Naproxen Sodium which can bring down the temperature and headache.

Majority of cases reported with chamki fever can get resolved in a matter of a few days. However, some severe cases can take about a few weeks to recover.
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