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Delhi link to Bengal ‘mystery’ fever 800 sick in Baduria

Barasat, Oct. 8: A goldsmith who came home from Delhi around mid-August could have carried the mystery fever to North 24-Parganas’ Baduria.

Health department sources said the first case of the fever, whose symptoms of high fever and severe pain in the joints match chikungunya’s, was detected on August 18.

The case was not reported to any health centre or hospital and the fever subsided following treatment by a private practitioner.

The second case of high fever with similar symptoms was reported to the block health centre on September 1, a health official said.

Around 800 people in 20 villages, around 75 km from Calcutta, now have fever, still in the realm of “mystery” as tests are yet to confirm its nature.

Thirty-nine people from two more villages — Kankrasuti and Atulia — who have high fever and severe joint pain have reported sick over the past 24 hours.

A few hundred samples have been sent to the School of Tropical Medicine in Calcutta and the National Virology Institute in Pune for tests. The Indian Council of Medical Research, Calcutta, is also studying some samples.

The first results are expected around Wednesday.

The rural hospital at Rudrapur in Baduria admitted 21 out of the 39 people hospitalised today.

“We are completely in the dark about whether the disease is chikungunya or dengue. We can only investigate the disease clinically,” said a doctor.

Although health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra said yesterday that the symptoms in Baduria were similar to chikungunya’s, doctors there said they varied from one person to another. “High fever and joint pain are the common symptoms. Some have rashes, while others don’t. So, we can’t be sure until the test reports come,” said a North 24-Parganas health official.

In case of chikungunya, there is high fever and severe pain and tenderness in joints. In dengue, there is high fever, severe muscle pain and sometimes, rashes.

Many Baduria residents are planning to shift their children to relatives’ places elsewhere.

“As more and more people are falling ill, I would move my children to a relative’s house near Calcutta. I have to stay here to earn a living,” said Sanjib Das, a trader at Narayani market in Ramchandrapur.

District magistrate P.K. Mishra and chief medical officer K.K. Adhikary visited the Rudrapur hospital today.

“Besides three medical camps, health employees in four primary health centres at Mashia, Bajitpur, Jadurhati, and Dakshin Chatra are working overtime to detect patients with these particular symptoms and providing them all necessary guidelines,” Mishra said.

“We’re cleaning up the hospital and spraying insecticides in villages,” said Adhikary.

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