• Shruti GOCHHWAL

What to Know About Chamki Fever: Bihar’s Recurring Health Crisis

Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES), also known as Chamki fever, affects hundreds of children each year in Muzaffarnagar of Bihar. The exact cause behind this Bihar encephalitis is yet to be identified.

What is Chamki fever or Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES)?

Chamki bukhar in English is known as Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) is a serious public health issue in India characterised by inflammation in the central nervous system. The defining feature of AES is the acute onset of fever hampering the neurological functions and sometimes also associated with seizures. There are two types of encephalitis – primary and secondary.

  1. Primary encephalitis – Is a condition where the virus directly invades the brain and infects it.

  2. Secondary encephalitis – In this type, the viral infection occurs due to weaker immune function and which later on spread and invade the brain.

Symptoms of AES

Flu in Chamki fever

Child suffering from flu-like symptoms, Credits: pixabay


The clinical signs of acute encephalitis syndrome include

  1. Flu-like symptoms like headache, fever, fatigue, and body ache

  2. Weakness and aches in muscles or joints

  3. Nausea, vomiting

  4. Acute inflammation of the brain.

  5. Impaired consciousness

  6. Limb paresis or death.

Acute Encephalitis Syndrome is caused by:

There are a wide variety of conditions that are involved in causing AES, which include:

  1. Bacterial or viral infections in the brain.

  2. Ingestion of toxic substances.

  3. Complications which result from infectious diseases and underlying malignancy.

The infective causes are known to be a predominant factor behind acute encephalitis syndrome. More than 100 different pathogens have been recognised as causative agents for Chamki fever. Among these, Japanese encephalitis (JE), Varicella-zoster, measles, Enteroviruses, Epstein Barr virus, Influenza, Adenovirus, Herpes simplex, and Mycoplasma pneumonia are the most frequent pathogens.

Some Facts on Acute Encephalitis Syndrome:

  1. Encephalitis in Bihar predominantly occurs in the populations having low socioeconomic status.

  2. Lack of good hand hygiene practices was strongly associated with the occurrence of AES.

  3. Transmission of AES from one village located far away to another supports the transmission of the virus by water, food and contact.

  4. The presence of lychee (Lychee Chinensis) orchard in the vicinity of affected households was significantly associated with the occurrence of AES. Most of these fruits lying on the ground are contaminated with faecal matter. When these fruits are consumed, the oral-faecal transmission of the disease may occur.

Prevention of AES or Chamki fever

Hand wash practice

Good hand hygiene can keep away Chamki virus, Credits: pixabay


Encephalitis syndrome can be prevented by taking necessary precautions that can help avoid contact with viruses that cause it.

  1. Good hand hygiene: washing hands with soap and water after defecation may limit the oral faecal transmission of the disease.

  2. Get vaccinations on time: Taking recommended vaccinations and Japanese encephalitis vaccine on time without delay can keep your children safe from catching an infection.

  3. Keep yourself protected from mosquitoes: Use mosquito repellent cream, wear long sleeve cotton clothes, use insecticide, remove standing water at times when mosquitoes are most active.

Treatment of AES or Chamki Fever

Injection

Treatment Injection for AES, Credits: pixabay


  1. Mild symptoms can be treated by taking rest and plenty of fluids. Medications like Tylenol, Advil can also be considered.

  2. Anti-viral medications like Zovirax, Foscavir and, Cytovene can be taken.

  3. All these medications should be consumed after consulting with your doctor.

  4. Severe symptoms may require supportive care in hospitals.

Japanese encephalitis vaccine

This vaccine is known to protect against Japanese encephalitis. These vaccines are more than 90% effective in fighting encephalitis. The vaccine is also recommended as a part of routine immunizations in countries where the disease is a problem.

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