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Encephalitis Survivors Face The Risk Of Becoming Disabled

sease but lost out on life.

"His posture remains abnormal while all locomotive abilities are numb. We are doing whatever is humanly possible, the rest is up to god," says staff nurse Reena Pandey.

The list is long and dismal as authorities struggle to cope with an outbreak of a disease that is easily preventable with a vaccine, and comes back with alarming regularity. Always leaving behind survivors who can't tell the tale of official apathy.

In 2004, the perennially dominant virus - at least for the past 27 years - killed 225 people.

One of those who survived was four-year-old Abhishek, reduced to a vegetative state where he can neither sit, nor move, nor talk.

"The doctors at the Gorakhpur hospital did save his life, but it has been one year and Abhishek is virtually living the life of a vegetable," says his uncle Om Prakash, a labourer in this village on the Gorakhpur-Kushinagar highway.

Abhishek's father and Om Prakash work in turns to ensure that there is always somebody to look after the child as his mother has two other children to attend to.

"We take him periodically to the medical college, but there has been very little improvement. We are also trying to follow physiotherapy as advised by the doctors in the hope that one day he will be able to stand on his own feet."

Whether he can actually do that is a question that even doctors cannot answer. "It is a very unfortunate situation and there is little that we can do about it," said Kushwaha.

So, how many more Abhisheks and Himalayas will Uttar Pradesh have to see before it clamps down a disease that can so easily be prevented? The answer is awaited by the hundreds of children who have survived, but haven't really lived to see another day.

-IANS
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