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Civic body contests dengue death claim

A 48-year-old woman who died on Sunday had been diagnosed with dengue but the Calcutta Municipal Corporation claimed Sushmita Malakar had not contracted the disease.

Malakar, a resident of Sapuipara in Garfa in Ward 106 of the CMC, had been admitted to KPC Medical College and Hospital, Jadavpur, on Sunday with high fever, septicaemia and multi-organ failure. She died in the evening.

“We conducted a dengue NS1 antigen test, which was positive. The test result, along with the symptoms, confirmed dengue,” said Suman Nandy, a consultant physician at the hospital who treated Malakar. “She died because of multi-organ failure caused by haemorrhagic dengue.”

The CMC was informed about the dengue death, the doctor added.

CMC officials, however, said Malakar hadn’t died of dengue. “We checked the dengue test reports and they were negative. We are serving legal notice to the hospital for triggering a false alarm,” said Atin Ghosh, CMC’s mayoral council member of health.

Nandy, however, said Malakar’s symptoms made it clear she had been suffering from haemorrhagic dengue.

“She was drowsy and unable to speak and her blood pressure and pulse rate were very low. Her platelet count was a mere 30,000 against the normal minimum count of 1.5 lakh. She also started bleeding from the mouth after she was put on ventilator,” he said. “Low platelet count and bleeding are classic symptoms of the disease.”

Experts said the NS1 antigen test for dengue allows rapid detection on the first day of fever, before antibodies appear five or more days later. It was introduced in 2006 and was first conducted in India in a Mumbai laboratory in 2010.

Amitabha Nandy, director, Centre for Studies on Infection and Immunity, Calcutta, said “no further tests are required” to confirm dengue after NS1. “It is a confirmatory test. The IgG or IgM antibody tests can be conducted after seven days of fever. Before that the antibodies are not developed,” he added.

CMC officials claimed efforts were on to curb mosquito-borne diseases.

“Surveillance has been stepped up. We are spraying larvaecites in all wards,” said Ghosh.

He said extra manpower was deployed at several places in the city to clear up accumulated fresh water.