Unknown Fever Grips Parts of City
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Kolkata , India
A strange fever has struck in large parts of north Kolkata. Even though the symptoms suggest dengue or chikungunya, neither has been confirmed. Doctors suspect it could be a new viral strain which is close to dengue and just as potent.
. Complaints of people being afflicted with this undiagnosed fever have been pouring into the Kolkata Municipal Corporation headquarters over the past two weeks. Though the signs and symptoms of this fever are resemble that of both chikunguniya and dengue, blood tests done so far have not confirmed either. Reports of the fever first came from Sankar Ghosh Lane, off Bidhan Sarani.
Residents raised an alarm after some locals were reported to have been affected by the strange fever. Sadhana Bose, the local Trinamool Congress councillor set the alarm bells ringing as locals mistook the fever to be Chikunguniya. Bose took up the matter with Atin Ghosh, the member, mayor–in–council overseeing the KMC health department. Ghosh sent a KMC medical team to the spot to find out the nature of the fever. A 20–member civic health team led by Tapan Mukherjee, visited all 42 houses of Sankar Ghosh Lane and found that seven people have had been affected with the strange fever in the past one month. “It is a viral fever. There is nothing to worry about it,” Mukherjee said. The MMiC said that an awareness drive was planned to ward off the panic from the minds of local residents.
But experts were not so sure. In some cases, it could even be chikungunya, they said. “It is difficult to confirm chikungunya through ELISA tests. Often, the disease goes undetected in tests while in other cases, a test could indicate chikungunya when the disease has not struck at all. It seems more like an altered strain of a virus. But we can’t be certain,” said Tomonash Ghosh, tropical medicine expert.
The fever has been precipitating a drop in the platelet count, but this drop is not sharp enough to confirm dengue. It is accompanied by a splitting pain in the joints, high fever and a persisting weakness. Some have even been getting body rashes. The rashes and itching appear only after remission of the fever. “The best way to deal with it is to avoid pain killers and anti–biotics. Paracetamol is the best option, along with plenty of fluids and rest. A blood test is mandatory,” said Ghosh.
It was reported that the fever has even triggered cardiac arrests.
“At least three of my patients died in their sleep. Each of them had a history of cardiac ailments and had contracted the fever. It might well have been a factor,” said Debashish Basu, preventive medicine specialist. But it was more likely to be a mutated strain of dengue.
“This does not seem to be a new virus but a mutated one. Like dengue, it has been triggering an adequate fall in the platelet count but has also been leading to a crippling pain in the joints and the lower back which is not typical of dengue,” said Basu.