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Whiff of polio in child’s death

Sept. 9: A two-year old boy died in the Malda Sadar Hospital yesterday of suspected polio, setting off the alarm among health officials in the district.

Tahedur Hussain was admitted to the hospital on Saturday with symptoms of the disease. Nurses at the children’s ward said the child was almost paralysed, which was one of the signs that he had contracted polio.

Chief medical officer Ashok Bandopadhyay said the child’s stool has been sent to the Polio Research Institute in Calcutta to confirm whether he had been suffering from the disease.

Doctors at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, too, are waiting anxiously for the “stool test” report of four-year-old Tandra Ghosh.

Stool samples had been sent to the Calcutta clinic at the time she was admitted to Raigunj Sadar Hospital with “acute flaccid paralysis”.

A “pale and lean” Tandra, who has been shifted to the medical college’s paediatric unit from the Raigunj hospital, didn’t respond to her mother’s requests to open her eyes when The Telegraph team visited her this morning. “She is finding it difficult to control her reflex actions,” her mother Niyati Ghosh said.

“She had gone through the polio vaccination doses. We don’t really know what exactly happened after that. We don’t know whether she would be able to sit and stand on her own once again. She has a stiff neck too,” her mother said, adding that she took all the medicines prescribed by doctors months before Tandra’s birth.

The head of the medical college’s paediatric department, P.K. Chandra, said: “We are awaiting the results of her stool tests. Only then can we say for sure whether she has been affected with the ‘wild polio virus’. However, Tandra will undergo physiotherapy from today.”

“We suspect that hers is case of reversible polio. The progression of the polio virus, we feel, has been arrested. Still, she could be having slight neurological disorders once she is cured. Some laboratory tests are being carried out to pinpoint the nature of her ailment,” Chandra added.

A senior doctor attending on the child said on condition of anonymity that the complications may have arisen because Tandra was administered stale drugs.

The Uttar Dinajpur administration had recently ordered an inquiry into the alleged supply of medicines, whose expiry dates had lapsed, to the health centres.

A section of doctors at the medical college said Tandra had been showing symptoms of what they call “Gullain Berry Polio” — a type of paralysis that is considered “reversible”.

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