The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Malaria family in red-faced district

Behrampore, July 15: The young parents of three children died of malignant malaria at the district hospital here after being treated by “village doctors”.

The children, also infected by the mosquito-borne plasmodium falciparum parasite, are fighting death.

The deaths came as fresh embarrassment for the health set-up in Murshidabad, which was rocked by a spate of child deaths in several subdivisions last month. Questions are now being asked about the anti-malaria campaigns that are supposed to be carried out periodically by health workers.

The district health department has sent a team of doctors and health workers to the village where the family came from. A medical team is also scheduled to arrive here from Calcutta to determine the seriousness of the outbreak and suggest preventives for future.

Nazir Sheikh, 25, a resident of Beldanga, about 185 km from Calcutta, was admitted to the Behrampore General Hospital on Saturday. Next day, his wife Beauty was brought to the hospital in a critical condition, said chief medical officer of health Bijon Mondol.

“Nazir died late on Sunday night, his wife expired on Monday. Yesterday, their three-year-old boy was admitted to the hospital. Their two other children, aged four and five, were admitted later,” said Mondol.

He confirmed that the couple died of malignant malaria and the children, too, were suffering from the same illness. “We have run tests to confirm the presence of Plasmodium falciparum in the blood samples of the entire family,” the chief medical officer said.

Nazir, his relatives said, was a mason and never travelled out of his village. How he got infected is a question bothering health officials.

Hafizur Rehman, a relative, alleged that the doctors were treating them for influenza and no blood tests were conducted till Nazir’s death. “Had the doctors tested their blood immediately after admission, they could be saved,” he said. The child deaths in the district were caused by influenza.

Hospital sources said the couple was brought for treatment at a critical stage after being treated by village quacks.

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