The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Experts, tests to swat chikungunya rumour

Dhanbad, Aug. 31: The district health department has summoned experts to disprove claims of chikungunya having affected people here.

The health department called in the state’s entomologists — zoologists who study about insects — to collect samples of Aedes aegypti mosquito. The insect is known to be a carrier of the virus that leads to chikungunya.

A team of four headed by a central government-appointed expert were called in after some mediapersons had asked the civil surgeon to explain the reasons for some deaths that had occurred due to an unknown viral disease. The information was demanded under the Right to Information Act.

The team collected the samples from interior coalfields and the outskirts of Dhanbad on Thursday and Friday.

District malaria officer R.P. Sahay, who accompanied the team to Bastacolla, Lodna, Baghmara and other blocks today, said the samples were collected from Hirapur, Court More, Park Market and Bhuli township on the first day.

The samples would be sent to Delhi for test if the mosquitoes are carrying the chikungunya virus, he added.

A member of the team, A.T.S. Sinha, said the results would come out in about six weeks. Samples of various stages of mosquitoes have been taken to rule out any confusion, he added.

Reiterating that the deaths were not due to chikungunya, civil surgeon Srinath Mishra blamed a section of the media and some doctors for fanning rumours.

“We had explained that it was a seasonal viral fever and not chikungunya, yet the rumour spread. Chikungunya is a communicable disease. Had it affected one, entire Dhanbad would have been in its grip. We had also confirmed that the virus does not exist here,” Mishra added.

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