Ashish and Vandana with their children in hospital. Picture by Amit Datta
An entire south Calcutta family of four — a young couple and their two children — has been hospitalised with symptoms of classical dengue in what could be a case of cross-infection or a very high concentration of vectors in their locality.
Hazra-based engineer Ashish Kumar, wife Vandana and their two daughters, six-year-old Astha and seven-month-old Aradhya, have all tested positive for the dengue virus in the NS1 antigen rapid test.
“They have high fever, body ache, vomiting, skin rashes and low platelet counts. Their blood samples would be sent for the confirmatory MAC-ELISA test at the appropriate time,” said critical care specialist Amitabha Saha, who is treating the family.
The confirmatory test is usually done after five days of fever, otherwise the virus won’t show up. The antigen test identifies an infection quicker, though there is a possibility of the result being a “false positive”.
Ashish and Vandana had been running a temperature since September 5. Their daughters were taken ill the next day. All four were admitted to Ruby last Friday.
Doctors said the couple had a blood platelet count of around 70,000 per unit volume on Tuesday, while their children had counts of around one lakh. The normal platelet level in a healthy person is between 1.5 lakh and 2.5 lakh per unit volume.
“Aradhya had been vomiting frequently with a rash all over her body. Astha had abdominal pain along with nausea,” said Ashish.
The condition of Vandana and her two daughters have improved since but Ashish is still weak. “Body ache, nausea, fever and rashes are signs of dengue. As their platelet counts were dropping rapidly, we advised hospitalisation,” specialist Saha said.
Before getting admitted on Friday, Ashish called his parents who stay in Hazaribagh to come over.
Hundreds of people have been admitted to hospitals across the city since July with dengue or fever and other symptoms suggesting a vector infection.
Doctors said in this year’s outbreak, the common factor was more than one member of a family taking ill. In some private hospitals, 10 to 15 per cent of the dengue patients have one or more family members admitted for the same disease.