The state of Uttar Pradesh, in northern India, has been suffering the consequences of a mysterious disease” for more than a week. At least 50 local residents — mostly children — died after experiencing fever and other symptoms, while hundreds more were hospitalized in six districts in the eastern part of the state, the most populous in the country. The information is from BBC.
Among the complaints are symptoms such as headaches and joint pain, dehydration and nausea. Some cases record skin rashes, which have spread to legs and arms. None of the dead tested positive for the Covid-19.
Doctors from affected districts — Agra, Mathura, Mainpuri, Etah, Kasganj and Firozabad — suspect the cause of the deaths is dengue, viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes.
According to professionals, many of the patients were hospitalized with a decline in the amount of platelets, a component of the blood that helps in the formation of clots, which characterizes a severe form of dengue.
“Patients, especially children in hospitals, are dying very quickly,” said Neeta Kulshrestha, the highest-ranking health authority in Firozabad district. There, 40 people, of which 32 were children, died in the last week.
what is dengue
Considered a tropical disease, dengue has been circulating in India for hundreds of years, in addition to being endemic in more than 100 countries, including Brazil. Most reported cases, however, are concentrated in Asia, with 70% of the total.
The disease is transmitted by mosquitoes Aedes aegypti female, having four distinct viruses. Children are up to five times more likely to die during a second infection with the disease than adults.
The mosquito breeds in and around homes in containers that contain fresh water. According to virologist Scott Halstead, one of the world’s leading experts on mosquito-borne viruses, by humans providing breeding grounds, “only humans can get them out.”
Each year, almost 100 million serious cases dengue fever—with severe bleeding and damaged organs—are registered worldwide. For the World Health Organization (WHO), the combined impact of Covid-19 and dengue epidemics can have “devastating consequences for populations at risk”.
However, it is still unclear whether dengue alone is responsible for fever-related deaths in Uttar Pradesh, with more than 200 million people, poor sanitation and high levels of malnutrition — cases of “mystery fever” are routinely pointed out every two years after the monsoon rains.
In the Indian state, more than 6,500 lives were lost in the wake of Japanese encephalitis outbreaks. Also transmitted by mosquitoes — first identified here in 1978 — the disease has spread mainly through Gorakhpur and adjacent districts bordering Nepal, near the Himalayas.
A vaccination campaign started in 2013 has reduced records in the locality, but children continue to die. In Gorakhpur alone, 17 children have died of encephalitis in 2020 to date, while 428 cases have been reported.
In 2014, scientists examined 250 affected children in Gorakhpur in response to an increase in cases of children dying from encephalitis and myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle.
So the researchers found that 160 of them had antibodies against the bacteria causing the typhus scrub, bacterial infection transmitted by bites from infected mites.
Scholars have found mites in firewood stored by residents inside houses. Typhus scrub often spreads when a child handles firewood at home or defecates near mite-infested bushes.
In another study, researchers found that typhus and dengue were responsible for post-monsoon fever cases in six districts in eastern Uttar Pradesh between 2015 and 2019. leptospirosis, transmitted from animals to humans, and chikungunya, transmitted by mosquitoes.
In 2006, the state suffered a “mysterious” outbreak of fever-related deaths among children. This time, however, scientists pointed to the consumption of marjoram, which can be toxic in high doses and grew in abundance in its territory.
Others genome investigations and analysis will be needed to reveal whether the latest wave of “mysterious fevers” was caused solely by dengue fever or other illnesses.
An unnamed Indian virologist underscored the need for the process, as well as calling the authorities’ attention: “If we don’t investigate properly and regularly, a lot of things will remain a mystery.”