Mysterious Illness Engulfs India's Haryana State as It Claims Nine Children's Lives

© REUTERS / ANUSHREE FADNAVISHealthcare workers are seen inside a ward for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi, September 3, 2021.
Healthcare workers are seen inside a ward for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi, September 3, 2021.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.09.2021
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Amid an impending third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, a mysterious fever outbreak has gripped several parts of India. The sudden rising of deaths, especially among children, has become a growing concern.
India is still not out of the clutches of the coronavirus pandemic, and now another public health concern looms large. Over the past 12 days, a mysterious illness in Haryana's Palwal district has claimed the lives of seven children, as per district officials.
However, the head of the village Naresh Kumar told Sputnik that nine children have died so far.
The public health officials are struggling to diagnose the cause of these deaths. So far, some of the suspected diseases vary from dengue to pneumonia, gastroenteritis, to vector-borne diseases owing to lack of sanitation.
Although some media reports suggest low platelet count, a crucial symptom of dengue, has been witnessed in most of the cases, the health officials haven't found a link yet.

"In the Chilli village, the main issue is there is poor sanitation, poor health awareness, and extreme vaccine hesitancy. We came to know about this matter on Saturday that a death has occurred in a medical college which is adjacent to this village. Sunday morning we went to the village and we started surveys and samples were taken for malaria, dengue, and COVID-19. On day 1 we had 64 cases of fever and today we have 12 cases of fever", Dr Brahmdeep Sandhu, Palwal chief medical officer, told Sputnik.

Dr Brahmdeep informed that, as per the reports from the Medical Superintendent of the Medical College, out of the five one died from anemia and heart failure, two deaths were related to diarrhoea with fever, another death was related to fever with pneumonia, and the fifth death was related to fever and brain stiffness.

"Nobody was dengue or malaria positive or COVID-19 positive. After five deaths two more children died on Monday also due to non-infectious conditions. Seven people have died so far. I have informed the district administration of the poor sanitation condition, bad water supply, and unhygienic living conditions. So far 400 tests have been done for COVID-19, 400 tests have been done for malaria, 12 tests for dengue and all of them are negative", Dr Sandhu said.

On Tuesday, a month-old girl died without any suspected symptoms. As per reports, her father found her lying motionless without any fever. Later that day, two more toddlers with high fever were taken to the hospital. Meanwhile, the public health officials are camping in the village and conducting a survey among the people in the village and testing for malaria, dengue, COVID-19, and other vector-borne diseases.
FILE PHOTO: A health worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) carries a patient suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outside the casualty ward at Guru Teg Bahadur hospital, in New Delhi, India on 24 April 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.09.2021
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The first case was reported on 30 August when a six-year-old boy complained of fever and body ache and later developed swollen eyes and arms. Two days later he died. The village, Chilli, is home to around 3,000 people and according to the health officials, the entire village has extremely poor sanitation and hygiene.

"The cases started coming after 25 August. Nine children have died so far. There is still no confirmed report about what is happening to these children. The officials took samples two days ago. We have never seen anything like this. Private hospitals say it's dengue but government hospitals say we can't say anything now", Naresh Kumar, village head of Chilli, told Sputnik.

The village head also informed that there is no healthcare centre there and patients are being taken to the Palwal city or the nearby Mewat district, which is more than 20 kilometres away.
"Around 15-20 children are affected and admitted in hospitals so far. Some officials have said the contaminated water can be a cause", he said.
On sanitation, Kumar said: "There is only one government-assigned safaikaramchari [cleaner] what can he do? I don't have the charge to do anything about this. It's the administration's lookout, what can I do?"

Is It Linked To The Mystery Fever of Uttar Pradesh?

Some reports claim that this swift outbreak is similar to the mystery fever that caused havoc in Uttar Pradesh's Firozabad district. Dr Sandhu dismissed this and stressed that unhygienic conditions can cause such public health emergencies in any place.
Although some of the cases in Uttar Pradesh have been diagnosed as dengue, scrub typhus, and seasonal influenza, in Haryana the officials are still clueless about what is happening to these people. According to the latest figures from Firozabad, over 12,000 people are affected by illness, and 114 have died, out of which 88 were children.
A 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. - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.09.2021
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In May this year, when the devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic was at its peak, 28 people lost their lives in Haryana's Rohtak district due to a "mystery fever". Later, the district health officials claim that the deaths were due to COVID-19 and other ailments.

Other Parts of India Also Affected

On Wednesday, Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar told reporters that there has been a marginal increase in influenza-like illness (ILI) and viral fever cases in the state.
"ILI [influenza-like illnes] kind of infection is witnessed during monsoon year on year. This year also, we're witnessing. We're closely watching, taking inputs from private and government hospitals. There has been a marginal increase in ILI cases and viral fever", said Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar on Monday.
Other than the northern parts of India, the capital of the state Karnataka, Bengaluru, is reporting similar viral fever cases among children. As per doctors, over 50 such patients are coming in daily, and a few children are being admitted for treatment too.
India's capital Delhi and its adjoining areas of NOIDA have also reported cases of viral fever. Delhi's Sir Ganga Ram Hospital has reported the majority of cases of dengue, followed by viral influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, some variants of swine flu, and scrub typhus, as per media reports.
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