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Tests for more diseases
- Glare on ailments other than encephalitis

July 25: The health department today decided to test patients with symptoms of Japanese Encephalitis for other diseases in Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts as an expert had suggested that enterovirus could be the cause of the large number of fever deaths in north Bengal.

Doctors have been asked to conduct tests on patients to check whether they are are infected with diseases like malaria, meningitis, chikunguniya, dengue and enterovirus attack. Till now, the patients have been tested for Japanese Encephalitis only.

The instruction on more tests was given at a meeting held in the office of the chief medical officer of health, Jalpaiguri.

“So far, we have been trying to find out whether patients are suffering from acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) and conducting tests at NBMCH (North Bengal Medical College and Hospital) to confirm whether their blood samples have the virus that causes JE. However, as a large number of patients have died from AES, block medical officers of health have been asked to conduct other tests to know if they have other disease,” Jagannath Sarkar, the CMOH of Jalpaiguri, said this morning, a few hours before his suspension.

Today, three more persons died at NBMCH, taking the number of people who succumbed to JE or AES in north Bengal this year to 118. Doctors said of the 118, only 24 had been diagnosed with JE. Most patients are from Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts.

JE is caused by Flavivirus and carried by the Culex mosquito.

Yesterday, an expert from the Pune-based National Institute of Virology had expressed doubts that the disease that was killing scores of people in north Bengal might have been caused by enterovirus. Malaria, meningitis, chikunguniya and dengue have symptoms similar to those of JE.

Sarkar also said the state government had been requested to send five lakh medicated mosquito nets to contain the spread of viral diseases.

Helpdesk

The Trinamul Congress leadership of Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts on Friday opened a helpdesk on the premises of the NBMCH to assist patients with AES, saying they faced inconveniences like delay in getting test reports at the medical college.

Sourav Chakraborty, the Trinamul district president of Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar, said: “Its apparent that patients are coming late to NBMCH for treatment, because of which the number of deaths is on the rise. There is also delay in getting test reports. I spoke to some of the patients and they complained that they had to buy medicines from outside. If there is a problem of medicines, we will provide the same to the patients.”

He added that a toll-free helpline would be operational at the helpdesk from tomorrow to help patients. The helpdesk is for patients from Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts.

Minister Gautam Deb, however, said he had no idea as to why the helpdesk had been set up. “So far, we have not received any complaint about the treatment,” he said.