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Mystery ‘flu’ raging in Bareilly region, over 30 dead

The health departement is yet to identify the disease or the cause of spread. Treatment is symptomatic.

lucknow Updated: Aug 31, 2017 16:39 IST
Chandan Kumar
Chandan Kumar
Hindustan Times, Bareilly
Mystery flu,Deaths,Bareilly
A huge percentage of those infected by the infection are children.(HT Photo)

Bimlesh,10, of Badaun was admitted to the district hospital on Monday with high fever but died within hours. The cause of the fever is unknown.

Sahil,8, of Shahjahanpur died in a private hospital of fever and flu like symptoms. Cause of death is said to be fever and excessive dehydration due to fever.

Over 30 people with fever and related flu like symptoms have died in the region in a week but the health administration is largely clueless about the cause. The strategy to combat the infection remains primitive, relying only on symptoms.

“It is very difficult to confirm the exact number of deaths but it is around it 12, since last Monday”, said Dr Sushil Kumar,CMO, Badaun. “We are trying to get an exact estimate and the cause of deaths,” he added.

Badaun is one of the worst affected districts with over 50 patients having reported at the district hospital or its subsidiaries within the last fortnight. It is feared that at least half of them have died.

Preliminary symptoms of the infection include mild fever and lethargy which in most cases is overlooked by the patient and his family members. In a few days the symptoms transmute into high fever with nausea andbody ache. “The advance symptoms look similar to Japanese Encephalitis(JE) and Acute Encephalitic Syndrome (ASE) but this does not appear in the pathological tests and before the exact cause can be deduced, we lose the patient,” said OP Singh, CMO Pilibhit, another district where four people died last week. Two of them were minor boys aged 8 and 12 years.

The situation is similar in Shajahanpur, Moradabad, Amroha and Bareilly districts. In Amroha, a 30-year-old man with these symptoms died last Friday. Three days later, his 26-year-old wife and 60-year-old father succumbed to the same infection.

According to medical practitioners, a substantial rise in such infections is recorded every year in August and September as monsoon make way for autumn. “The change in climate affects the immunity of the human body and makes it prone to new infection. All these cases can be attributed to these infections,” said Dr UD Singh, an expert of communicable diseases.

Read more: Death too frequent a visitor at Gorakhpur’s BRD Medical College

Though the health department is yet to determine the causes of the infection, tepid response of the patient and his family after infection has also pushed the death graph upwards. “Often, the patients are brought to us after a delay of three to four days which gives us a very small chance to cure the patient” said a senior government doctor.

However, such deaths are reported across the region every year, yet the health administration makes no preparations in advance. “The health department sends team to villages where these cases are reported but does nothing to prevent the infection. Simple awareness and availability of basic medicines can decrease the mortality rate,” believes DR UD Singh. “Also, the department must make efforts to identify the causes which lead to such infection,” he added.

Meanwhile, the teams of Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP), responsible for mapping the spread of such diseases, have been alerted. “ We have started collecting information about such cases from our teams which are present in various districts of the region.The information will be shared with the bodies concerned for a better understanding of the cause of deaths”, said Dr Meesam Abbas, IDSP, Bareilly unit.

First Published: Aug 31, 2017 16:39 IST