An 'unknown fever' in Uttar Pradesh's Sitapur claims 20 lives, 2,000 hit

People living in many blocks in Sitapur district of Uttar pradesh are dying due to an unknown fever for the last few days. The situation is so grave that even the state health department is clueless as so how to contain this

Chandrakant MishraChandrakant Mishra   28 Aug 2019 1:25 PM GMT

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An unknown fever in Uttar Pradeshs Sitapur claims 20 lives, 2,000 hit

Chandrakant Mishra/ Mohit Shukla

Seema Devi, 36, who lives in Pairua village in Sitapur district -- 70 kms from Uttar Pradesh's capital Lucknow -- lost her 3-year-old son Dev just a few days after his mundan (first hair-cutting ceremony). What's worse, the cause of his death is not even known.

"We celebrated our kid's first mundan ceremony this May. The relatives had gifted him many new clothes. He would insist to wear new clothes every day. I didn't know my son would never get to wear these clothes," said Seema, who was struggling to hold back her tears.

People living in many blocks in Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh are dying due to an unknown fever for the last few days. While 20 confirmed deaths have been reported, around 2,000 are suffering from this "fever" and are admitting in various hospitals.

The mystery fever that originated in the Gondlamau block of Sitapur, later spread to other blocks like Misrikh, Laharpur, and Reusa. The situation is so grave that even the state health department is clueless as so how to contain this.

Gaon Connection reporter visited the districts and talked to people who have lost their family members to this unknown fever. There's hardly any home in Pairua village, which is not hit by the epidemic.

Photo: Seema Devi, who lost her 3-year-old son to the 'unknown fever'.

"On August 13, all of a sudden my son got high fever. I gave him medicines and put him to sleep. But at two in the morning, we lost our son," said Seema. Dev was the youngest of the six siblings. "He was the most mischievous, but also the most adorable. He was dear to everyone"

Like Seema, many mothers have lost their kids to this epidemic.

Santosh, another victim of the epidemic, said his entire village is hit by this unknown fever. He informed that the health department sent some of their staff who collected blood samples of those who had a fever. We are still waiting for the reports. "The doctors come, give us two-three medicines and leave. We are then forced to go to private doctors when medicines, prescribed by the government doctors, don't help us recover," he said. Most of them can't afford to go to private doctors.

In the neighbouring Saidapur village, Saroji Devi, 45, was inconsolable. Her son Manoj has been suffering from fever since the past one week. "I bought medicines from the government hospital, but they are not helping my son recover," lamented Saroji.

Talking about the symptoms, experts informed that it starts with a common cold and later the patient gets a high fever. The fever subsides as soon as the patients start taking medicines. But it lapses soon after. In many cases, people were diagnosed with Malaria.

Kesan Pasvan, 45, lost his life on August 6 due to this 'unknown fever'. It came to the light later that there's a huge pond full of filth in front of Kesan's home. There are many open drains and reeky ponds in Pairua village. There are heaps of garbage lying around. The healthcare team arrived here and sprayed mosquito repellent only after two people lost their lives.

Gaon Connection reporter spoke to 12-year-old Pinky, who lost her father Kesan to this fever. "On August 6, he got a high fever. He had difficulty in breathing. We took him to a nearby government hospital in Sitapur. He couldn't even talk and had a high fever. When the doctors here gave up, we took him to Lucknow. He died on the way," she said.

"The drains here are full of filth. Water-logging near government-provided handpumps is a common sight. The authorities never bothered to spray repellents or sprinkle slaked lime even once," she added.

Photo: There are many open drains and reeky ponds in Pairua village. It attracts mosquitoes and thereby affects human health.

On August 26, Dr SK Kumar, additional director of Medical Health and Family Welfare, Lucknow, along with his team, inspected the area. They visited many patients and distributed medicines. "This village is very dirty. All ponds in this village are full of filth. Unpicked garbage has piled up, which attracts mosquitoes. Instructions for fogging and cleanliness in the village have been given to the cleaners and the healthcare workers," he said.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Sitapur Dr Surendra Singh stated that the number of 'unknown fever' patients in the OPD is increasing every day. "Their blood samples are being taken for various tests. Due to the changing weather, this fever is spreading beyond our control. People should clean their neighbourhoods. Moreover, anti-larvae pests are being sprinkled in the village. The beds in the government hospitals are being reserved for patients," he said.

Two years ago, Natwal Grant, a small village in Gondlamaublock of Sitapur district, along with 10 other villages suffered from the epidemic, which claimed 50 lives in the district. The department has then termed the unknown fever as malaria. The question remains that was the epidemic neglected when 50 people had lost their lives. The epidemic kept on spreading and the government had failed to make the necessary arrangements.

Are we staring at the inevitable yet again?

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