Kala-azar scare in Assam, alert sounded

February 21st, 2008 - 11:30 am ICT by admin  

Guwahati, Feb 21 (IANS) Health authorities in Assam have sounded an alert after seven people were admitted to the Gauhati Medical College Hospital with suspected kala-azar or black fever, a fatal disease that has been almost eradicated. “Seven patients, including two children, were being monitored and various tests undertaken to find out if they were victims of kala-azar. We hope to get the laboratory results in a day or two,” P. Bhattacharya, superintendent of the medical college, told IANS.

All the seven patients, who have been admitted over the past five days, were from the Chandrapur area on the outskirts of Guwahati.

A team of senior doctors of the medical college held an emergency meeting to find out diagnostic measures in the event of a black fever outbreak.

“Since black fever is a deadly disease and there were reports of such cases in recent history, we are taking the matter seriously and held a meeting to discuss possible steps in case the laboratory tests are positive for kala-azar,” the superintendent said Wednesday.

Black fever is a deadly disease transmitted via the bite of an infected sand fly. It usually develops over several months or years. If black fever is not treated, it can be fatal.

The general symptoms of black fever are persistent fever, fatigue and weakness, vomiting, diarrhoea and enlarged spleen, besides weight and appetite loss.

“There could be several complications of black fever like facial disfigurement, damaged immune system and haemorrhage,” another doctor at the medical college said.

“Unless diagnosed early and treated before the immune system is damaged, the disease could be fatal. The common mistake made by doctors is that such cases are generally presumed to be malaria and hence the danger,” he said.

Health authorities are now monitoring the health status of locals in the area from where the seven patients were brought to the hospital.

“We are sending field staff and doctors to the area as a precautionary measure,” a health department official said.

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