The death toll in an encephalitis outbreak in Uttar Pradesh, India, rose to 90 on Thursday with more deaths being reported due to the water-born disease, a health official said.
Most of the dead were children and more than 200 people were in hospital, many of them in a critical condition.
"The death figure is likely to go up as more patients are coming in," said K.P. Kushwaha, a health official in Gorakhpur, a large town in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
He said nearly two dozen patients were being admitted into the main government hospital in Gorakhpur every day with symptoms of encephalitis including fever, muscle ache and vomiting.
Encephalitis, an acute form of brain fever, is caused by a virus spread by mosquitoes and proliferates in water-logged parts of India during the monsoon season.
In 2004, about 50 people died of the disease in the state, reports Reuters.
According to Guardian, Japanese encephalitis, which often hits children, is caused by a mosquito-borne virus that attacks the brain. Symptoms of the disease start with a very high fever, followed by seizures, vomiting, then vomiting of blood. Eventually, victims can fall into a coma. Behavioral changes and delirium also often occur.
"I can officially confirm the death of 79 children from encephalitis. At least 182 children are admitted in different government hospitals," O.P. Singh, the state director-general of health, said by telephone from Gorakhpur, 155 miles southeast of Lucknow, the state capital. More than 100 more children are in serious condition, he said.
Most of the affected children are from poor families, local doctors said.
"The government hospitals are full of children suffering from encephalitis. Nine children died overnight and the number is increasing," said Lalit Saxena, a doctor at Gorakhpur's government hospital. "Parents of these children are poor. ... They do not have enough money for treatment."