Mystery disease forces mass exodus from Uttar Pradesh villages

September 1st, 2008 - 3:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Kanpur, Sep 1 (IANS) Villages around Kanpur, which have seen a mysterious fever claiming over 140 lives in the past four weeks, are now witnessing a mass exodus.In the worst affected Ghaar and Pulandar villages, about 300 families have already moved out.

Over 1,000 people have been infected with the mysterious disease in the two villages, where about 800 families reside. Most of the people in these villages live in thatched houses.

Ailing people lying on cots and team of medicos visiting door to door reflect the alarming situation prevailing in these villages.

In these two villages at least 40 people have died of the mysterious disease, which is marked by high fever and has symptoms similar to malaria.

“The scare of the mysterious fever is driving away people in search of safe locations,” Ram Sewak, village head of Pulandar, told IANS.

“Considering the death toll, they (villagers) now think moving out from here is the most viable option to ward off the mysterious disease,” he added.

The majority of the population in these two villages are poor Harijans who work as labourers in brick kilns.

The villagers are now selling off their brass utensils, which they say is their most precious possessions.

“To fetch money for moving out from here, about 100 families here have either mortgaged or sold off their brass utensils,” said Somnath, the village head of Ghaar.

The scare of the mysterious fever can be gauged from the fact that the villagers fear to remain in their houses alone.

“They all huddle in fields during the day and also sleep in the open at night. By this, they feel a sense a security,” said Somnath.

Sanitation conditions in the two villages are highly unsatisfactory. Open drains, filth and squalor can also be seen littered all around the villages.

Taking this into account, the health authorities do not rule out the possibility that the mysterious fever might be water-borne.

Villagers alleged that the relief camps set up by the health administration to contain the mysterious disease are not serving any purpose.

“Without examining you, the government doctors will just hand you tablets of paracetamol. None of your queries are entertained by the doctors,” said Santosh Devi Dayal, a local of Pulandar village.

“In case of my wife Sangeeta, doctors did the same and she died of the mysterious disease,” alleged Dayal, who has also decided to leave the village with his 10-month old daughter.

When contacted, Director General (medical and health) I.S. Srivastava said: “We have already started relief work in affected villages on war footing. Every effort is being made to tackle the situation prevailing in Kanpur Dehat (the Kanpur rural district.”

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