The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Probe team after 31 deaths

June 6: The state government will despatch a team of experts to determine the mystery fever that has killed 31 children within days in the Lalgola subdivision of Murshidabad.

The health directorate will send the team from the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases to the Lalgola panchayat samity region, 10 villages of which have been affected by the outbreak.

The toll went up today after an 18-month-old child, Manurul Islam, died in a village in the Lalgola area. A team of doctors from Behrampore collected blood samples from local children who are suffering from high fever and bronchial congestion.

Director of medical education Chittaranjan Maity said in Calcutta that the Union health ministry had enquired about the disease after reading newspaper reports.

“We have told them that a team is going to the area to collect blood samples and they would be informed once we get the report,” he said.

Murshidabad district magistrate Manoj Panth said: “We have begun taking steps to mitigate the spread of the disease. We are awaiting a report from the medical team before we begin the treatment needed to halt the spread of this affliction.”

District health department sources said the child victims of the illness — marked by high fever, convulsions and laboured breathing — were aged two-months to five-years.

“Though we do not have any test results with us, the symptoms point to a viral attack, maybe water-borne. It could also be due to the severe heatwave, and children have low resistance to diseases,” a district medical officer who refused to be named said.

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