Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and Influenza B have been detected in some samples of children admitted with high fever to the Jalpaiguri district hospital.
The findings brought relief to health authorities as before Thursday the cause of fever among hundreds of children in the region had been a mystery.
Laboratory diagnoses have also confirmed dengue in some cases, said a state health official.
Sources in Jalpaiguri district hospital said swab samples from 10 children under treatment had been sent to the Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine on Tuesday.
“RSV was found in three samples and Influenza B in other three samples. Nothing was found in the rest four samples,” a source said.
Health officials in Calcutta said on detailed inquiry by the state expert committee, no specific outbreak was found so far. “Fortunately, RS virus infection is generally self-limiting and is cured within three to four days. Death rate is extremely low for the infection.”
Sushanata Roy, the office-on-special duty, north Bengal, said: “Presence of this virus (RSV) in a child’s body is very common. It spreads through common cough and cold. RSV is infectious and I request parents to rush to nearby hospitals if symptoms show up.”
Although 700 children have been admitted across north Bengal and more than 200 have been admitted with symptoms of fever and pneumonia in hospitals of Purulia district in south Bengal, state health officials have come up with comparative figures to show that the number of cases is not abnormally high in 2021.
Citing an example of Jalpaiguri district hospital, a state health official said while 1,195 patients were admitted between September 1 and 15 this year, the figures were similar for September in previous years till 2017, except 2020.
“In September 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, admissions numbered 2,279, 2,049, 2,083 and 640. The low numbers in 2020 were owing to Covid-19 pandemic. There were six deaths in September 2017, four in 2018 and no deaths in the last two years,” the official stated.
This year, six child deaths have been recorded across north Bengal in the past 72 hours. Health officials, however, said some of these children had comorbidities and that discharge rate of admitted patients was also high.
Nevertheless, the state government is sending an expert team from Calcutta to north Bengal districts to further review the situation.
Most of the north Bengal districts have also formed committees to monitor the respective paediatric units in hospitals.
At the Falakata Super Specialty Hospital in Alipurduar district, there is no child specialist though children are being brought to its OPD by parents. Of the two child specialists at the hospital, one is currently down with Covid-19 while another has recently quit the job.