A malaria victim at RIMS, Ranchi, on Thursday. (Hardeep Singh)
Monsoon’s magic has a sting in the tail.
Heavy downpour earlier this week may have narrowed the rain deficit and drowned drought worries, but it has once again put Ranchi and its adjoining districts on the fever pitch.
If patient records at Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) and sadar hospital are anything to go by, cases of malaria — particularly its rogue cerebral type caused by the protozoan parasite Plasmodium falciparum — and viral fever have increased three to four times in just 10 days.
While most patients are from Ranchi’s villages, some are from the city as well, suggesting inadequate community hygiene and sanitation practices that trigger monsoon maladies.
According to doctors at RIMS, the medical institute, which admitted two to three malaria patients every day, was now witnessing eight to nine cases on a daily basis.
“Most of them are suffering from cerebral malaria. In its most critical form, falciparum can cause coma or death,” a junior doctor, attending to patients at the medicine ward on Thursday, voiced his worst fears.
Sadar hospital medical officer Dr A.K. Jha echoed doctors at RIMS. “The number of malaria patients coming to our hospital has doubled in a week. Viral cases have also seen a surge. The OPD is flooded every day,” he said.
In Jamshedpur, 25 cases of malaria have been reported at MGM Medical College and Hospital, 15 at Tata Motors Hospital, five at Tinplate Hospital and three at Mercy Hospital in a week.
Cerebral malaria also claimed 30-year-old Sheikh Mujeed, a resident of Golmuri Circus Ground, at MGM on August 14.
The disease has been a killer in Ranchi, Jamshedpur and the rest of Jharkhand in the past too. Several villages, particularly those in the forest belt, are endemic zones during monsoon and sometimes even after the rains. In Ranchi district, Bundu, Tamar, Silli, Angara, Mandar and Budmu are malaria endemic zones.
“My daughter’s fever has not subsided in four days. We panicked and brought her to RIMS yesterday (Wednesday),” said Sarita Devi, mother of 15-year-old Munni Kumari from Hatia. Doctors have diagnosed the girl with cerebral malaria.
Mahesh Sawansi, a resident of Bano in Simdega district, is also under treatment at RIMS. “There are many mosquitoes where I live. Their numbers increased after the rains started. I think I have malaria because I was not using a mosquito net at night,” the 17-year-old said.
Mahesh hit the nail on the head. Despite district administrations handing out a large number of mosquito nets before monsoon this year — 75,000 were distributed in Ranchi alone — most villagers have not put them to good use. Result: mushrooming cases of malaria everywhere.
“We do have information that many villagers are not using mosquito nets simply because they are not habituated. Our officials are holding meetings to create awareness against diseases and why the net is necessary. We are also distributing pamphlets,” said Dr Anil Kumar Jungbahadur, the malaria officer of Ranchi.
He added that though more and more cerebral malaria cases were being reported, the disease had not claimed any casualty in the district though the toll in East Singhbhum had risen to four this month.