Encephalitis deaths rise above 1,300 in north India
"At least nine more children died of this mosquito-borne disease (overnight) taking the toll to 1302," said Vijay Shankar Nigam of the state health directorate's communicable disease department.
The vast majority of the dead are children, mostly malnourished and under the age of 15, officials said in Lucknow, the state capital.
Some 250 people are still in state-run hospitals with encephalitis.
The encephalitis outbreak was first reported from Gorakhpur, 250 kilometers (155 miles) southeast of Lucknow in July and more than 4,900 cases have since been reported across the impoverished state of 180 million people.
"By September end the disease was on the ebb in Gorakhpur and adjoining areas," said Lalit Saxena, a government doctor, in line with expectation that the virus would die out with the onset of winter.
"The concern is that the disease has spread to new areas particularly to the western part of the state," Saxena said. "Over 100 deaths have been reported in Saharanpur in the last fortnight or so."
A special team of doctors have been sent to Saharanpur, 400 kilometers (250 miles) southwest of Lucknow, O P Singh, director of General Health Services, told AFP.
Health minister Jaiveer Singh has said that his government would start a vaccination drive in November to tackle next year's expected outbreak, but was still waiting for federal funding.
"We have approached the central (federal) government and international agencies for help. We are waiting for the response," Singh said.
Japanese encephalitis first surfaced in Uttar Pradesh in 1978, killing 721 people, and has become endemic.
str/bp/jah AFP 040603 GMT 11 05
Copyright (c) 2005 Agence France-Presse
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 11/04/2005 01:05:28
©AFP: The information provided in this product is for personal use only. None of it may be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the express permission of Agence France-Presse.