The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Killer fever returns

Chandigarh, Sept. 21: A killer fever has come calling in Himachal Pradesh for the third time in three years.

Diagnosed as ricketsial by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, the fever — which keeps cropping up during the rainy season — has claimed 14 lives this year and driven 73 to hospitals in various parts of the state. The disease, first detected in 2001 when 13 people died, had baffled medical experts as repeated laboratory tests yielded no tangible result. Last year, the fever claimed four victims.

A special 120-bed isolation ward has been set up at the Indira Gandhi Medical College (IGMC) in Shimla to house patients, medical superintendent Hardyal Chauhan said.

Although investigations have revealed that the disease is ricketsial, a doctor at IGMC said it would have to be confirmed by an antibody detection test.

Himachal Pradesh health secretary P.C Kapoor said the patients suffering from the fever, which is “probably ricketsial”, were being given special care and 33 out of the 73 people admitted at IGMC have been discharged after treatment.

Kapoor said IGMC has been receiving patients mainly from the districts of Solan, Shimla, Sirmour, Bilaspur, Hamirpur and Mandi. They complain of high fever lasting one to three weeks and associated symptoms of headache, vomiting, muscle pain, swelling of feet or face and congestion of the eye.

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