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    National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC)

    NEWS: Odisha uses satellite imagery to create unique flood hazard atlas.
    SOURCE: The Hindu.
    WHY IN NEWS: Odisha has come out with a unique flood hazard atlas on the basis of historic flood inundation.

    National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) is one of the primary centres of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Department of Space (DOS). NRSC has the mandate for establishment of ground stations for receiving satellite data, generation of data products, dissemination to the users, development of techniques for remote sensing applications including disaster management support, geospatial services for good governance and capacity building for professionals, faculty and students.

    NRSC operates through multiple campuses to meet national and regional remote sensing data and applications needs of the country.

    Main activities:

    • Satellite Data Acquisition

    • Data Processing & Dissemination

    • Aerial Services & Digital Mapping

    • Remote Sensing Applications

    • Disaster Management Support

    • Geospatial Services

    • Region Specific Services

    • Outreach and Training

    Acute Encephalitis Syndrome And How Litchi Toxin Is Causing The Deaths

    NEWS: How litchi toxin is causing the deaths of undernourished children in Muzaffarpur.
    SOURCE: The Hindu.

    AES in short, it is a basket term used for referring to hospital, children with clinical neurological manifestations which include mental confusion, disorientation, convulsion, delirium or coma.

    Meningitis caused by virus or bacteria, encephalitis (mostly Japanese encephalitis) caused by virus, encephalopathy, cerebral malaria, and scrub typhus caused by bacteria are collectively called acute encephalitis syndrome.

    While microbes cause all the other conditions, encephalopathy is biochemical in origin, and hence very different from the rest. There are different types of encephalopathy. In the present case, the encephalopathy is associated with hypoglycaemia and hence called hypoglycaemic encephalopathy.

    It is an observed fact that malnourished children between two to 10 years fall ill and die due to hypoglycaemic encephalopathy. It is not known why older children or adults do not suffer the same way. This clear discrimination by age is also a reason why the underlying cause of the illness cannot be a virus. A virus does not discriminate by age, and children younger than two years too are affected by Japanese encephalitis.

    It has also been documented that most of the children falling ill are from families camping in orchards to harvest the fruits. These children tend to collect and eat the fruits that have fallen on the ground.

    Hypoglycaemic encephalopathy outbreaks are restricted to April-July, with a peak seen in June. This is because litchi is harvested during this period.

    In 2017, an India-U.S. team confirmed the role of the toxin called methylene cyclopropyl glycine (MCPG) in litchi.

    Early morning, it is normal for blood sugar to dip after several hours of no food intake. Undernourished children who had gone to sleep without a meal at night develop hypoglycaemia. The brain needs normal levels of glucose in the blood. The liver is unable to supply the need. So the alternate pathway of glucose synthesis, called fatty acid oxidation, is turned on. That pathway is blocked by MCPG.

    Litchi does not cause any harm in well-nourished children, but only in undernourished children who had eaten litchi fruit the previous day and gone to bed on an empty stomach.

    In well-nourished children, reserve glucose is stored as glycogen (glucose polysaccharide) in the liver. Whenever the glucose level goes down, glycogen is broken down into glucose and circulated in the blood for use. But undernourished children lack sufficient glycogen reserve that can be converted into glucose. Therefore, the natural mechanism in undernourished children is unable to correct the glucose level in blood, leading to hypoglycaemia.

    Normally, when glycogen reserve in the liver is exhausted or is not sufficient, the body converts the fatty acid (non-carbohydrate energy source) into glucose. But in the presence of the litchi toxin, the conversion of fatty acid into glucose is stopped midway. As a result, no glucose is generated and the low blood glucose level is not corrected by the body.