The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fear of new dengue

Calcutta/Krishnagar, April 28: A mystery fever that has killed five persons in Nadia district has been identified as a new strain of dengue after preliminary tests.

The state health department said the virus that had struck at Betai village in Nadia’s Tehatta block had so far proved fatal, unlike classical dengue.

“Preliminary reports suggest seven of the 21 samples have tested positive for a type of dengue,” Sanchita Bakshi, director of health services, said. “Two teams from Swastha Bhavan and STM will visit the place on Monday.”

More tests will be required to conclusively establish that this is a new strain of dengue.

One person died of the disease today at the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Beleghata. Nityagopal Chakraborty, who had visited his in-laws’ place in Betai last week, was the fourth member of the family to pass away.

A friend of his, Gobinda Sarkar, died of the disease at B.P. Poddar Hospital last night. A resident of Krishnagar, Gobinda had accompanied Nityagopal to Betai recently.

“These patients had fever and later began to suffer from acute breathlessness and convulsions. Then they slipped into coma and died,” a critical care expert, Subrata Maitra, who treated both patients at B.P. Poddar, said. Nityagopal was shifted to the Infectious Diseases Hospital today.

A health department official said the duo’s blood test reports have yet to come. “But since their symptoms were similar, it seems they had the same viral infection.”

The first such death was reported from Nadia this February. A three-member team from the School of Tropical Medicine visited Tehatta on Wednesday to collect blood samples from people suffering from mild to high fever.

Officials said people with acute symptoms were being referred to hospitals, including those in Calcutta. The only way to check this disease was to prevent accumulation of water as this facilitated breeding of mosquitoes, they said.

Mrinal Kanti Biswas, Nadia chief medical officer of health, said a district health team had been sent to Betai to check how many people had the same symptoms. An awareness drive has been launched.

As dengue is a viral disease, there is no specific cure for it. Paracetamol is prescribed for symptomatic relief. Aspirin prevents clotting but can be counter-productive in case of haemorrhagic dengue.

A family member of Nityagopal’s confirmed he had visited Betai after the three deaths. “He had been there for the rituals on all three occasions.”

Gobinda, an X-ray technician at Chapra primary health centre, had had fever for five days. “On Tuesday, he was admitted to a local nursing home but doctors could not diagnose his condition,” his brother Joydeb said.

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