Sunday, July 16, 2000,
Chandigarh, India

C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


‘Surgery useful in curing squint’
By Poonam Katial

CHANDIGARH, July 15 — About 3 to 5 per cent children suffer from squint. In this disorder both eyes are misaligned and point in different directions. The problem is basically due to the difference in the strength of nerves of both eyes, creating problem in focussing.

All forms of squint can be corrected at any stage in life. However the age between 1 and 2 is considered the best. Squint occurs as the brain receives two different images. It can be constant or intermittent. In constant squint, the eyes all the time work differently, whereas in the intermittent case, the eyes generally works well but occasionally the squint occurs.

Squint is generally diagnosed easily as it is clearly visible in the eyes. There is no age limit for this problem. It is generally a congenital problem meaning children are born with squint in their eyes. The problem is hereditary but at a later age it can be due to injury or some problem, say doctors.

Problems like congential cataract, defective nerve or eye muscle, brain disorder, mental disorder or retardation ,brain tumour or delayed development are the problems which commonly lead to squint in the eyes. But there could be individual reasons also, says doctors at the PGI eye department.

It is generally believed that small children having this disorder cannot be treated. But this is definitely a myth. Nowadays there are various treatments available for squint in eyes. Glasses generally help in the straightening of the eyes. There are exercises recommended for latent squint but cannot help in constant squint. Surgery is best for all other types of squint and is effective at an early age. Surgery balances strength of nerves of both eyes and usually takes place without removing the eyeball.

However, surgery can lead to a small reduction of vision. But the success of it also depends on the doctor and an accurate assessment.


Fungal infection cases among farmers
By Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, July 15 — A farmer in North India suddenly develops fever, vomits and develops neck stiffness. He visits a private practitioner in the area, who diagnoses him to be suffering from meningitis and starts anti-bacterial therapy. But his condition worsens and he dies before reaching any tertiary care centre.

Microbiologists studying such cases have found that instead of bacteria, fungus may be responsible for causing the disease, and the anti-bacterial therapy proves fatal. Amongst these fungi, the commonly found agent is Cryptococcus neoformans. This agent generally causes infection in patients, who are immunocompromised such as AIDS patients or cases of leukemia and transplant. But recent studies have shown that one variety of cryptococcus neoformans, var. gattii. can cause meningitis even in healthy farmers.

According to Dr Arunaloke Chakrabarti, Additional Professor in the Department of Microbiology, PGI, the disease was not known in India till 1993. The occurrence of C.neoformans var.gatti causing cryptococcal meningitis was reported for the first time in three patients from northern India. And since 1993, 15 cases of these fungal infections have come to the PGI for investigations from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

Studies reveal that C.neoformans is usually spread by pigeon excreta (droppings of the pigeon), but C neoformans var.gattii has never been isolated from pigeon excreta. The disease is very common in Australia and California and scientists had found in 1996 that a particular variety of Eucalyptus tree — Eucalyptus camaldulensis (river red gum) is responsible for the spread of this infection.

An analysis of the cases reported from these northern states shows that it is normally occurring in healthy farmers working in the field. Since they are exposed to trees that harbour C.neoformans var gattii, they get the infection from the air, the agents settle in the lung and from there the infection spreads to the brain and causes meningitis. Usually, the patients develop chronic meningitis with the presentation of fever, neck stiffness and vomiting. Dr Arunaloke Chakrabarti maintains that the fever is mostly low grade but once meningitis develops, early diagnosis is very important because most of the cases are fatal.

There is no need to panic because drugs like Amphotericin B and Flucanasole are available to counter this infection. Of the 15 cases, which were referred to the PGI, 14 persons have survived and only one, who came at a later stage has died. The cases of these infections are no longer confined to northern India but are also being reported in Vellore, Mumbai and Delhi. He emphasised that correct and timely diagnosis of the disease is important as a large number of such cases are being treated as bacterial infections in the peripheral centres and 50 per cent of these die.

Studies have also shown that the infection has possibly spread from Australia to India along with contaminated seeds of E. camaldulensis and other eucalyptus-bearing propagules of the fungus. A study was subsequently conducted by a team of PGI doctors to investigate the possible association of C.neoformans var.gattii with the Eucalyptus growing in Punjab.

Samples of eucalyptus were collected from flowers, fruits, leaves, bark, debris and soil in Chandigarh, Patiala, Hoshiarpur, Phillaur, Ferozepore areas. Of the 696 samples tested, only flower specimens from three E Camaldulensis, collected near the Ferozepore area, yielded C neoformans var.gattii. They further found that the trees grown in the Chak forest area had originally come from Australia, one from the Pente Cort River area and the other from the Irvine bank.

Dr Chakrabarti further informed that a study is being conducted by the ICMR from the PGI with the help of doctors from other centres to investigate the geographic distribution of this yeast in India and to find out if certain other species of older trees also harbour C neoformans var.gattii. Fifteen areas in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh have already been identified for collecting the samples.


Another TT title for Nadia Saini
By Our Sports Reporter

CHANDIGARH, July 15 — Nadia Saini, student of DAV Public School, Sector 8, today added second title in the junior section in the Bhavan Hawk’s 6th Chandigarh state ranking open table tennis tournament here today at the Sector 23 TT hall.

Nadia won against Megha Kassal of AKSIPS in four games at 17-21, 21-15, 21-12, 21-7. Earlier, Nadia had yesterday won the cadet girls title. Ramanpreet Kaur of AKSIPS-41 secured third place by defeating Ruchi Gautam of DAV Model School, Sector 8, by 21-19, 21-10.

Varun Kassal of AKSIPS-41 got the better of Aditya Puri of Manav Mangal- 21 to bag the junior boys title at 23-21, 11-21, 21-8, 21-5. The sub-junior boys title was claimed by Aditya Puri of Manav Mangal School, Sector 21, when he outplayed Sajal Kaushal of Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 23, 21-0, 21-5.

Carrom tournament: The Raj Kumar Babuta memorial prize money carrom ranking tournament, organised by the Chandigarh Carrom Association, began here today with all seeded players advancing into the next round. Earlier, Mr M. Kithan, Director Social Welfare, Haryana, inaugurated the meet.

The results are:women— Anjali Negi b Pallavi; Anita Sharma b Shikha Thakur; Raj Laxmi b Inder Kanta ; Nidhi Patwal b Savi Mahajan ; Shikha Nanda b Sushila Prasad.

Men—Third round: Gagandeep b Mahesh Kumar; Ajay Gupta b Rahul Nanda ; Baninder Singh b Taranpreet.

IInd round: Mahesh Kumar b Harinder Singh; BS Negi b Joseph; Gagandeep b Yam Bahadur Thapa ; Rahul Nanda b Praveen; Mukesh Piplani b Ravinder Sharma; JR Dhir b Anu Papneja; Sunil Yadav b Ashutosh Pandit; NS Pahwa b Amanpreet Saini; Taranpreet Pahwa b Jugal Kishore; Baninder Singh b Ashish Sharma; JP Singh b Rajneesh; Ramanpreet Pahwa b Jaswinder Singh ; Sanjay Negi b Sudhir Sidhu; Vinod Vashisht b Rajinder Patel; Darshan Singh b Karan Kasir; Raj Kumar b Varun Kumar; Paramdeep Singh b Gyan Bahadur ; Ashwani b Himanshu Moudgil; Tejinder Harry b Sumit Chakarvorty ; DS Aithani b Harman Mann.

Sabeeha selected for Atlanta shooting meet: Sabeeha Dhillon, the young shooting prodigy of Chandigarh, added another feather to her cap when she was selected from this region for the 2000 Atlanta World Cup shooting championship, the last major meet before the Sydney Olympics, going to begin at Atlanta (USA) from July 17 to 21.

Sabeeha who recently returned from Plezen (Czech Republic) after taking part in the international tournament , left Delhi today for this coveted meet. Her father Mr Iqbal Singh Dhillon said here today that she was part of the six-member team comprising two men and four women.

Mr Dhillon said competitions would be held in rifle and pistol events and nearly 600 shooters will take part in this five-day meet.Back


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