‘Mystery Fever’ That Killed Dozens in India’s Uttar Pradesh State Identified as Dengue, Says Report
© REUTERS / DANISH SIDDIQUIA man wearing a protective suit touches the body of his relation, who died from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), before his cremation on the banks of the river Ganges at Garhmukteshwar in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India on 6 May 2021.
© REUTERS / DANISH SIDDIQUI
Uttar Pradesh's governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has announced a campaign to clean up the state after massive rainfall in many districts. The end of the monsoon season is associated with an annual outbreak of dengue fever across many parts of India.
The 'mysterious' illness that has claimed at least 60 lives in India’s Uttar Pradesh state over the fortnight has been identified as a serious form of dengue, according to officials at the Indian health ministry cited by English language news website NDTV.
Official sources also told the Indian news website that around 50 percent of the 200 samples collected from one of the worst-affected districts, Firozabad, tested positive for dengue - a tropical, vector-borne disease caused by the Aedes mosquito.
A six-member team from India’s National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is at present touring the affected districts, all in the western part of Uttar Pradesh. Besides Firozabad, deaths have also been reported in, among other places, Mathura and Agra, local media says.
The team of experts is reportedly expected to submit their findings on Monday.
On Friday, 3 September, Firozabad’s District Magistrate Chandra Vijay Singh said in a video message that he had been told by the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of “haemorrhagic dengue”, a very dangerous form of the vector-borne disease.
“The platelet count of children collapses suddenly and there is a lot of bleeding,” he said.
As well as haemorrhagic dengue, the team of federal experts also detected cases of “scrub typhus” fever from the samples, according to a report by news agency Press Trust of India (PTI). Scrub Typhus is caused by the bite of an infected chigger (a type of larval mite).
Yogi Adityanath, the state chief of Uttar Pradesh, has suffered a political backlash over the spate of deaths in western Uttar Pradesh over the past few weeks, with Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra accusing him of not having learnt any lessons from the “mishandling” of the second wave of COVID-19 this year.
Vadra claims that more than 100 people, mostly children, have succumbed to the disease in the past 15 days.
Dr Kafeel Khan, a whistle-blower doctor who was suspended and jailed by the Yogi Adityanath administration for publicising the shortage of oxygen at a government-run children's hospital, said on a social media post this week that there is no such thing as a “mysterious illness”, as he slammed the state authorities for not having adequate information about the disease.
Dr Khan's remarks were made before local authorities confirmed that the outbreak was dengue.
In another post on 3 September, Dr Khan questioned the logic of suspending medical officials over the “dengue-related” deaths, arguing that mosquitoes causing the disease breed in stagnant water.
— Dr Kafeel Khan (@drkafeelkhan) September 3, 2021
Adityanath visited Firozabad this week to review the situation in the district. After his trip, he transferred three officials, including the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Neeta Kulshrestha, for not performing their duties properly.
Kulshrestha had reportedly speculated that the deaths were caused by a “new form of virus.”