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Times of India
10 June 2011
By Umesh Isalkar
Pune, India

As many as three people, two of whom are from Pune, have died due to malaria at the Sassoon hospital between January and April this year. The PMC health department, however, expressed ignorance about any such deaths in its jurisdiction. The death figure was confirmed by the medical record section of the Sassoon hospital.

The first casualty was Raniya Ajit Nishad, 32, a resident of Kolbewadi in Khadakwasla. She was admitted on January 1 and she died on January 5.

Bharati Deepak Sawant, 22, a resident of Karve road, died due to mixed malarial infection – caused by P falciparum and P Vivax strains of malaria. The death occurred on February 19. "Sawant was admitted to our hospital on February 17. She had tested positive for both strains of malaria. She was a resident of Kedar Empire, opposite SNDT College, Karve road," the Sassoon official said.

The third victim, thirty–eight–year–old Janabai K Bhore, a resident of Shetiphale, Aatpadi in Sangli district, died on April 20. "Bhore succumbed to cerebral malaria. She was admitted to our hospital on April 10," the official said.

Senior paediatrician Sharad Agarkhedkar said, "The falciparum strain of malaria, which is considered life–threatening, causes cerebral malaria by blocking the veins in the brain in severe cases. The patient goes into coma and suffers convulsions."

The plasmodium vivax strain of malaria, which was considered mild and caused no deaths till 2006, claimed 12 lives in Mumbai in 2009–10. The strain had claimed two each in 2007–08 and 08–09, also in Mumbai. The main killer is the falciparum strain of malaria.

After TOI informed the civic health officials about the addresses of both the victims, the officials visited their homes. R R Pardeshi, health chief of Pune Municipal Corporation, said, "Our health official went to one the victim's house in Karvenagar, but their family members didn't let them enter. Khadakwasla is not in our jurisdiction, but I will confirm if Nishad died due to malaria or something else."

Sadashiv Patole, head of the PMC's insect–control department, said the Sangli does not fall in his jurisdiction. "The other two patients might have come from adjoining districts as these deaths have not been reported to us. It is often seen that patients coming from neighbouring areas furnish local address of their relatives who stay in Pune."

"The number of malaria, dengue and chikungunya cases reported by the civic body's health department is just the tip of the iceberg. Majority of the cases remain vastly underreported," said a private medical practitioner.

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