The family of Ramendra Pandey (65), the first person to be documented of dying due to a chikungunya-related cause in a Delhi hospital, is under shock.
“Why question us? If the mosquitoes are responsible, then the government should be questioned. We have kept the surroundings clean, the rest is up to them?” said a family member, refusing to speak further.
Pandey died of sepsis, a blood infection, early Monday morning. It began with high fever a week ago, for which a doctor near his Ghaziabad house prescribed a paracetamol.
His condition deteriorated suddenly and he was taken to the nearby Yashoda Hospital.
When he became sicker, he was moved to Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, where he was admitted in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Pandeys’ neighbours said mosquito-borne diseases are common in Ghaziabad’s upmarket Chander Nagar.
“I know of at least four people living here – among my family and friends – who have had chikungunya over the last one month,” said Chitra Surana, who lives in a flat two streets away. “Fogging and breeding checks do not happen here. We live one street away from Delhi,” she said.
Chander Nagar is right at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border. Even auto-rickshaw drivers do not cross the signal, let alone MCD workers, say residents.
A local doctor and chemist say that several people suffer from chikungunya in the neighbourhood. “At least 60% of my sales are that of paracetamol and pain medication. Every other person seems to be walking in with high fever and joint pain,” said Rakesh Gupta, owner of Vinayak Medicos.
Dr PK Gupta, who runs a clinic in the neighbourhood, recalls his stint in Mauritius in 2005 and 2006. “At the time, I was working in a government hospital. So, I treated around 150 chikungunya patients in a day. Here, I see around 40 each day,” he said.
He is surprised by the high number of chikungunya deaths being reported. “I have seen so many chikungunya cases, but I have never seen a death. I don’t know how people are dying here. Either, the hospitals are reporting it wrong and the people have died of co-morbid conditions (those that occur together), or the virus may have mutated,” said Dr Gupta.