Goat milk has become a precious commodity in Punjab, thanks to the myth that it can help cure dengue by increasing the platelet count. Dengue patients usually experience a sharp fall in the number of platelets.
Harbans Singh, a goat farmer from Rashanheri village near Kharar, said, "Everyday, people ask for goat milk. Some even come from Chandigarh (located around 25 km from his village)."
Goat owners generally don't charge money for small quantities of milk. "Whatever people give, we accept," said Harbans Singh.
With dengue cases on the rise across the state, prices of goat milk have gone up. "Earlier, I used to collect goat milk for around `25 per litre, which was on a par with cow milk," said Makhan Singh, a resident of Nag village near Kharar, who collects milk from various nearby villages. Now, some people are selling it for `100 per litre also.
“It is common to see patients having goat milk in an effort to cure dengue," said Dr Gagandeep Shergill, a medical officer at the primary health centre, Amarali, in Rupnagar district. Some people believe that Kiwi fruit, too, helps fight dengue, Dr Shergill added.
However, according to experts, goat milk doesn't stand scientific scrutiny when it comes to the treatment of dengue.
"Any kind of milk has a component named lactoferrin, which can help fight dengue. However, there is no scientific evidence yet to prove that goat milk helps boost platelet count," said Dr Rakesh Sehgal, head of department, parasitology, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh. Significantly, around 1,200 cases of dengue have been reported in the state so far this year.