Encephalitis kills 253 Indians

Encephalitis killed another 41 people over the weekend in northern India, with the mosquito-borne disease showing little sign of abating after claiming a total of 253 lives in nearly three weeks, a state government official said Monday.

The majority of the dead are children. Some 300 people have been hospitalized, many of them in serious condition, D. P. Mishra, joint director of Uttar Pradesh state health services, told The Associated Press.

Health Minister Jaiveer Singh said that the government was doing its best to control the disease as it spreads throughout the state, vaccinating children and spraying insecticide to kill mosquitos in the affected areas.

Encephalitis causes high fevers and vomiting and ultimately can leave patients comatose. It can be prevented by vaccinations, but state health authorities say they don't have enough money for a statewide immunization program.

"We are helpless now. We are waiting for the encephalitis to die its natural death by mid-October," Singh was quoted as saying by the AP.

Encephalitis often spreads during the monsoon season because of an increase in the number of mosquitoes, which breed in stagnant water. India's monsoon season begins in June and ends in September.

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