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23 December 2008
Bangalore, India

It was only a rumour and there had been no adverse effect on children given the polio drops on Sunday, the Karnataka government said
A day after hundreds of panicky parents thronged hospitals after reports that a child given polio drops had died, the Karnataka government said on Monday it was only a rumour and there had been no adverse effect on children given the polio drops on Sunday.

Karnataka Health and Family Welfare Commissioner PN Sreenevasachary told reporters here that reports that a child had died in Tamil Nadu after being given polio drops were only rumours, but people had panicked.

Doctors at several hospitals in Bangalore and a few other places in Karnataka had a harrowing time on Sunday night as hundreds of parents rushed their children to hospitals following the rumour.

Millions of children across Karnataka and several other states, including Tamil Nadu, were given polio drops on Sunday as part of the national Pulse Polio programme to eradicate the debilitating disease from the country.

After some TV channels in Karnataka telecast the ‘News’ of the reported death of the child, a large number of parents who got their children administered polio drops earlier in the day, rushed their wards to government–run hospitals in Bangalore, Mysore, Kolar and other places for a check–up.

Police were called in to control the crowds. “We had a harrowing time because of the rush of parents and their reluctance to believe that polio drops administered to the children were safe,” a doctor at Bowring hospital in Bangalore city centre said.

In Mysore, angry parents damaged furniture and some medical equipment at one of the hospital, police said in Bangalore.

Sreenevasachary said nearly 6.1 million children in the state were given the vaccine on Sunday. “The programme has been on for 13 years and Karnataka has not had a single polio case for the past three years. However, rumours like this would set back the national mission aimed at eradicating the disease from the country,” he said.

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