100 dead as fever grips 5 states, MP worst-affected
Nearly 100 people have died after suffering high fever across five states in north and eastern India over the past month, officials said on Wednesday, with Madhya Pradesh becoming the latest state to get afflicted with 3,000 cases and six suspected deaths.
The first cases were reported in Uttar Pradesh’s Firozabad district in the second week of August and was described by local officials as “mystery fever” before the Uttar Pradesh government said it was dengue. A central team on September 6 classified a majority of the deaths as being caused by dengue, with the others attributed to scrub typhus and leptospirosis.
Officials in various states attributed the fever to different diseases -- MP and Haryana said the cause was unclear, Bihar blamed pneumonia and West Bengal influenza.
Senior health officials from Madhya Pradesh said that many patients had tested negative for dengue in the standard NS1 antigen test, but high fever and a decreasing platelet counts persisted. Officials said that they were going to send samples to the National Institute of Virology, Pune, for further tests.
As many as 3,000 cases have been reported in MP with six suspected deaths in the last 45 days. Of this, 1,400 cases were reported in the past two weeks. The worst affected district is Mandsaur, which reported 886 cases, followed by Jabalpur with 436 cases.
The data shared by the health department included cases from August 1. However, media reports suggested the deaths happened in the last 20 days.
Health department officials said they suspected the entry of a new variant of dengue in the state. “We have sent samples to National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune as many people said they were tested negative with dengue-like symptoms”, one officer said.
“One of the sample reports confirmed DEN-2 virus, which is commonly spread in MP but other reports of samples are awaited,” said Himanshu Jaiswal, state malaria officer.
In Jabalpur, the municipal corporation banned desert coolers.Health officials also asked all the doctors to carry out blood tests and dengue tests. “People, who are complaining of headache, body pain, stomach pain with high fever, have been asked to go for the test. We have asked them to increase liquid diet as the condition of many is deteriorating due to dehydration,” said Rakesh Pahariya, malaria officer, Jabalpur.
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan held an emergency meeting with health officials on Tuesday and asked the district officials to contain the spread through fumigation.
“We are creating awareness among people. I have also asked the hospitals to have enough medicines. We are also motivating people for blood donation because dengue patients need platelets,” said health minister Prabhuram Chaudhary.
In Firozabad, 61 people have died of dengue, including 50 children and 11 adults, said additional director (health), Dr AK Singh.
Dr Sangeeta Aneja, principal of Firozabad Medical College, said 490 children were presently admitted because of dengue fever.
In Mathura, 11 people have died of high fever since August last week, with 25 others admitted in the Mathura District Hospital. Health officials said the deaths in Mathura were not from dengue, and seven of the 11 killed were children. “In Mathura, mostly cases are of high fever but not of dengue,” stated Dr AK Singh.
Agra logged 25 cases of dengue, of which 6 are from Firozabad and 2 from Mathura, but no deaths.
“The state government has deployed 15 more doctors in Firozabad and a special cleanliness drive being conducted in entire state to curb mosquito borne diseases,” said ACS (full form) information, Navneet Sehgal.
Around 1200 children are affected by fever and respiratory illness over the past five days while at least two have died in north Bengal, according to the state health department.
“In some samples we have detected Respiratory Syncytial virus (RS virus) and influenza-B virus. Covid has been detected in one case. There has been no specific outbreak,” said a senior official of the state health department, adding that the number is still lower compared to previous years.
Health officials, however, said that this is lower than previous years. In 2017 (July to September), more than 2,270 cases were reported. In 2018 and 2019, at least 2,040 and 2,080 cases were reported during the same period, official said.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who doubles up as the state’s health minister, held a meeting with top health officials and bureaucrats of the state to take stock of the situation.
“It is the normal seasonal influenza which happens during this time of the year. The government set-up is fully geared up to deal with the situation. Experts are visiting the hospitals and protocols are being reviewed. There is no need for any panic,” said NS Nigam, state health secretary.
14 children are suspectedto have died of respiratory pneumonia at two hospitals in Patna so far this month as doctors said cases of respiratory tract illness with high-grade fever in children had increased, leading to paediatric wards being almost full at major hospitals of Patna.
The Patna Medical College Hospital and the Nalanda Medical College Hospital reported seven child deaths each due to pneumonia this month.
“There is nothing to panic about. Cases of pneumonia are reported every year. It’s just that this year such cases have been reported slightly early,” said Dr IS Thakur, medical superintendent, PMCH.
“There’s nothing new about these cases of pneumonia, they increase every year in monsoon. The incidence of such infection increases every alternate year and that has been the pattern for several years now,” said NMCH medical superintendent, Dr Binod Kumar Singh, who is also the professor and head of the department of pediatrics.
As many as 216 of the 1,385 patients coming to the paediatric outdoor patient department (OPD) at NMCH this month have been diagnosed with pneumonia of which 21 have been admitted for treatment at the hospital, said Dr Singh. “This is higher than the number of cases with viral infection reported around this time of the year,” he added.
Dr Lokesh Tiwari, additional professor and head, pediatrics department at the AIIMS-Patna said, “The number of patients coming to our OPD on a daily average has gone up by 50% of which roughly 15-18% cases are of respiratory tract infection, involving cough, cold and fever. Most of these cases are stable and require no admission.”
“As many as 34 children out of 124 in the paediatrics OPD had reported viral fever between September 13 and 16. Seven have been admitted to our institute,” said Dr Manish Mandal, medical superintendent of the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS).
Similar cases have been reported from across the state and most have been admitted to super-speciality tertiary care centres at Patna, including the PMCH, NMCH, AIIMS and the IGIMS.
“Around 70 cases of respiratory symphital virus (RSV) have been reported from Muzaffarpur. Of the six viral infections in Gopalganj, two have been diagnosed with dengue. Other RVS cases have also been reported from Patna, Sheohar and almost all 38 districts of Bihar,” said Dr Ranjeet Kumar, state surveillance officer.
Cases of children with fever have been reported from Chilli and Chilla villagein Palwal district. The “mystery fever” was first noticed on September 9 and so far seven children , two of them below 5, have died but the cause of the fever is yet to be ascertained.
According to health department, some deaths may be due to pneumonia and gastroenteritis as per records of Nalhad Medical Collage.
The health department said prima facie, probable cause of the outbreak could be the unhygienic conditions and illegal drinking water pipe connections that led to the contamination of drinking water.
According to additional chief secretary (health) Rajeev Arora, an epidemiological investigation was ordered in coordination with a representative from the World Health Organisation. The samples have tested negative for malaria, dengue and Covid.