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After malaria, dengue claims 1

Siliguri, Nov. 11: Just when the health department has its hands full with malaria, the town yesterday reported its first case of dengue death in recent times.

The death of Arup Modak of Milan Pally in a nursing home here confirms fears that dengue, which had acquired epidemic proportions in Calcutta some months ago, has arrived here. Going by the speculation of the health officials, Calcutta is feared to be the source of Siliguri's dengue case. Modak was 25 years old and an employee of a local vernacular daily.

'The victim was in Calcutta about four months ago,' a senior health official said. 'It is very likely that he contracted the virus then. He must have been in the incubation period,' he added.

State director of health services Prabhakar Chatterjee said the department has initiated an independent probe to confirm if the death was actually due to dengue. Attending doctors Kallol Dasgupta (medicine) and N. Hussain had stated 'dengue haemorrhagic shock syndrome' as the cause of Modak's death. 'If the private laboratory, where the victim's blood was tested, still has the samples, we would get it tested from North Bengal Medical College,' a senior health official.

If dengue is confirmed, Chatterjee said the department would conduct a survey of at least 50 homes in Modak's neighbourhood.

Earlier this year, two confirmed cases of dengue were reported from the town. Both the victims survived the attack and had reportedly contracted it in Calcutta.

Modak's family has condemned Siliguri Municipal Corporation for doing little about public health. 'The drains are never cleaned and garbage is seldom cleared. Today after the news of my son's death spread, SMC staff cleaned the drain and sprayed bleaching powder only in front of our house,' said Sadhana, Modak's mother.

Mayor Bikash Ghosh said the SMC has been doing what it can to prevent dengue. 'Our borough chairmen and councillors have been meeting regularly to take stock of the situation,' said Ghosh.

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