The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Child death scare returns

Burdwan, July 15: The deaths of six children in two days at a village about 180 km from Calcutta resurrected the ghost of Murshidabad, where more than 60 children had died last month.

Burdwan’s chief medical officer of health, S.K. Sarangi, said he had evidence of four child deaths in the past two days. “One of them died of encephalitis and the other from respiratory distress. Five more children are being monitored by our team led by specialists from the medical college here,” Sarangi said on returning from Kasba village.

In Murshidabad, the official toll was stuck at 23 but unofficial reports said 66 children died. Three doctors were suspended for negligence after the deaths were found to be caused by influenza. Doctors had initially blamed a “mystery fever” and respiratory distress for the deaths.

A team led by the block medical officer of Pursura has collected blood samples from at least 200 children at Kasba and the adjoining villages. Sarangi said most of the children appeared to be suffering from typhoid, a water-borne disease.

The exact cause of the deaths is yet to be determined as test reports of the blood samples were awaited. The samples have been sent to the School of Tropical Medicine in Calcutta for analysis.

Going by reports from health department sources, the children died without giving much scope for treatment. One of the bereaved parents said their child had complained of severe stomach cramps and ran high temperature. Convulsions followed and then came death.

Biswajit Mullick’s nine-year-old son was admitted to Burdwan Medical College Hospital this morning as advised by doctors at a medical camp set up at Kasba.

Sources said last night, Dipankar Mondol, 8, died after convulsions. His father Dipak said he had taken his son to a medical centre at Panagarh and then to Bidhannagar Government Hospital in Durgapur. “The doctors at the hospital asked us to transfer him to the steel plant’s main hospital and my son died on the way there,” Mondol said.

Prakash Bagdi, 4, Sabir Molla, 6, and two other boys have died in the past 24 hours.

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