The death toll due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Muzaffarpur has touched 122, as more than 600 children across 16 districts of Bihar have so far been afflicted by brain fever.
According to statistics released by the department, the total number of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) cases registered across the state since June 1 was 626 and the total number of deaths caused by the same has mounted to 136.
Muzaffarpur district has bore the maximum brunt, accounting for 117 deaths so far. Besides, deaths have been reported from districts like Bhagalpur, East Champaran, Vaishali, Sitamarhi and Samastipur.
The department also said that among the various complications that are covered under the umbrella term AES, hypoglycemia or very low blood sugar level was the most prevalent as it has afflicted 520 children and accounted for 110 deaths.
Experts have blamed the high incidence of hypoglycemia on a toxin found in unripe litchi fruit, which is believed to be consumed by malnourished children from underprivileged backgrounds.
Meanwhile, the Centre as well as the state government have taken a grim note of the alarming number of deaths caused this year, the highest since 2014.
The death toll due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome figured in the Rajya Sabha Friday, with opposition parties demanding that the government make an urgent intervention and pay compensation to families.
The issue first figured when Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu was reading out obituary references on the death of former members as well as those killed in terrorist attacks in New Zealand and Sri Lanka.
Opposition members demanded a similar reference be made for the children who died in Bihar.
Naidu first asked the Secretary-General to "take care of the Bihar thing" and bring an appropriate resolution. Such a reference was not listed in the agenda paper for the day.
But after making a reference to June 21 being celebrated as International Day of Yoga, he said that a number of children had died in Bihar and the House condoles their death.
"We will stand in silence in memory of the children who lost their lives," he said as members stood in silence for a moment.
Naidu also converted a notice for suspension of business to take up the issue of Bihar deaths into a zero hour notice and allowed Binoy Viswam (CPI) to make a short submission.
Viswam said the government has been calling the deaths an accident but "it should be called a murder".
Malnutrition and unsafe water are responsible for the deaths, he said, adding 24 lakh children die every year due to malnutrition.
He sought urgent improvement in the health system and medical infrastructure and payment of "adequate compensation" to families of victims.
Congress and other opposition parties wanted a discussion on the issue but Naidu did not allow.
Video: Parliament pays tribute to victims of AES in Bihar