India, encephalitis death toll roses to 308

Japanese encephalitis has killed 41 children in one day in northern India, taking the month long death toll to 308 in the country's latest outbreak of the mosquito-born disease, officials said Wednesday.

Most of the dead have been children under age 15 in the outbreak in Uttar Pradesh India's largest state and one of its poorest state health officials said.

Government health official D.P. Mishra said Wednesday that 41 children had died of Japanese encephalitis in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 308 since the latest outbreak began late July.

The "toll is increasing and patients are still coming to hospitals," Mishra said.

Officials say that three adults are among the 308 fatalities in the outbreak of the viral illness, which causes high fever and vomiting and can sometimes lead to coma and death.

More than 1,100 patients are being treated in government hospitals with symptoms of Japanese encephalitis, which is spread by mosquitoes that breed in water puddles left by annual monsoon rains that run from June through September, officials say.

It can be prevented by vaccinations, but Uttar Pradesh health authorities say they don't have enough money for a statewide immunization program.

The latest outbreak, first reported around the eastern city of Gorakhpur, has spread to 24 of Uttar Pradesh's 70 districts, reports the AP.

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