A doctor said on Tuesday the death of an eight-year-old girl from Udham Singh Nagar district in Uttarakhand, who fell ill after being given a deworming tablet as a part of a government health drive, could not have been due to the medicine.
“She had initially exhibited symptoms of aspiratory pneumonia (a breathing condition) with epileptic fits. However, the girl’s mother later told doctors that she had consumed four-five random tablets at home prior to being taken to the hospital. It may be a case of suspected poisoning (due to a reaction of multiple medicines) but albendazole could not have been the reason of death,” Udham Singh Nagar’s chief medical officer Dr Hemant Kumar Joshi said.
The girl, a resident of Kichcha block, was one of the many students who were administered Albendazole pill at their primary school in Rameshwar village on February 10 as a part of the government’s National Deworming Day activity across the state.
She fell ill in the evening on the same day after which her parents took her to the district hospital at Rudrapur. She was later rushed to Dr Sushila Tiwari Government Medical College and Hospital in Haldwani where she died on Monday morning.
Apart from the girl, over 50 school children also fell ill after they consumed the tablet at a school in Khatima, a town in the same district, on February 10. They were rushed to the nearest community health centre on the same day.
“It was a case of mass hysteria (development of identical symptoms in a group of individuals) and their condition stabilised after preliminary treatment,” Dr Joshi said.
Dr Joshi added that viscera of the girl has been sent for forensic examination.
He said that the “actual reason could be arrived at only after the forensic report”, he blamed a section of the media for “spreading misleading reports” about the cause of the death without any conclusive medical reports.
The CMO said that around 3.5 lakh tablets had been administered to school children across the district but that there had been no other complaint of this nature.
“All the batches of medicine received by the district (from Dehradun headquarters) had an expiry date of 2018,” he added.
Dr AK Pandey, the medical superintendent at Sushila Tiwari Hospital where the girl died, could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.