The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Docs foxed by malaria

Jamshedpur, Nov. 25: Doctors on Saturday remained tight-lipped on the cause of sudden death of three children belonging to the same family but apprehended that it was cerebral malaria that took the lives of the children, the oldest of whom was six-year-old and the youngest just two.

The bodies have been sent for post-mortem by a medical board and more tests are being conducted to determine the cause of their death, said doctors at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College and Hospital.

Curiously, the parents of the children and the two remaining siblings have also been admitted at the MGM after complaining of similar symptoms of excruciating body-pain and breathlessness.

The three deceased children, said the subdivisional magistrate of Seraikela, Meghu Baraik, who accompanied the patients and bodies to the MGM, were said to be hale and hearty on Friday morning. Late in the morning they started complaining of restlessness and pain and they apparently died within hours in the afternoon.

The magistrate quoted neighbours as asserting that while the parents of the deceased had been complaining of mild fever and bodyache for the past few days, the children were apparently quite healthy and cheerful till Friday morning.

While the administration has demanded the post-mortem report within 24 hours, that is by Sunday, the doctors claimed that it would take around 72 hours to complete the “complex pathological tests”.

But preliminary tests, they suggested, indicate that the deaths were caused by cerebral malaria.

A senior doctor at MGM also endorsed the diagnosis and said the patients admitted to the hospital have shown symptoms of cerebral malaria. Doctors in Seraikela, he suggested, might have failed to make a correct diagnosis and hence described the cause of death to be a “mystery disease”.

The Seraikela-Kharsawan civil surgeon, Shiv Shankar Birua, said the symptoms of the children are that of cerebral malaria but “since they died within a couple of hours we are not ready to jump to any conclusion”.

Special camps are being planned to administer a dose of anti-malaria medicine to everybody, he added.

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