| GEO World|
| Encephalitis outbreak kills 200 in India|
| Updated at: 0412 PST, Wednesday, September 03, 2008|
NEW DELHI: Nearly 200 people, mostly children, have died in an outbreak of Japanese encephalitis in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, health officials said Tuesday.
A spokesman from the state-run BRD Medical College in the state's Gorakhpur district said the toll had reached 199 with the deaths of five more children on Tuesday.
"We received around 1,100 patients with encephalitis in two hospitals since June and 199 of them have died so far," the hospital spokesman said by telephone from Gorakhpur.
"Around 180 others suffering from the mosquito-borne disease are currently under observation," he said, adding that some of the victims had been brought from adjoining districts.
Gorakhpur was at the centre of a major encephalitis outbreak that claimed more than 1,400 lives across Uttar Pradesh in 2005.
Last year 400 people died of the encephalitis virus in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state with 180 million people.
Health experts say 70 million children in India are at risk of encephalitis, which can result in brain damage, as the country does not have the infrastructure to produce more than two million vaccines a year.