Friday, February 15, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Plague spreads to Uttaranchal
Two more deaths reported
S. P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Shimla, February 14
After the Rohru area of Himachal Pradesh, the fatal pneumonic plague has spread to the neighbouring Uttaranchal where it claimed the life of a young woman, Pushpa, today.

The woman, a resident of Banpur village in the Chakrata area of Uttaranchal, was brought to hospital at Rohru in a critical condition in the morning and she died within four hours as both her lungs has been damaged. With this, the total number of deaths due to the disease has risen to 3.

Sulochna (28), who was admitted to the PGI, Chandigarh, also died this morning. Her husband, Randhir, had died earlier after showing symptoms of pneumonic plague.

Educational institutions in Jubbal tehsil of Shimla district will remain closed till February 17 as a precautionary measure against cases of unidentified fever in the area.

The Himachal Pradesh Government has sent a fax message to its Uttaranchal counterpart informing it about the prevalence of the disease in its areas adjoining Rohru.

Scare has also been created in the Chhota Shimla area near the secretariat here as a woman, Asha Devi, was admitted to Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital with similar symptoms. Test of her sputum indicated positive signs of pneumonic plague.

DDT was being sprayed in the entire Strawberry Hill locality where she resided and other residents were given anti-biotic capsules.

A house-to-house survey to identify the affected persons was being done at Rohru. Over 200 persons turned up at the hospital in the neighbouring Jubbal area to take medicines as a precautionary measure.

The Senior Medical Officer of Rohru, Dr Ram Lal, said over the telephone that two patients, Damyanti and her son Hapinder, who were being treated for similar symptoms of blood coming with sputum in their house at Hatkoti village, were today shifted to the hospital.

He said the deceased, Pushpa Devi, had apparently contracted the disease from Randhir to whom she was related. One of her other relatives, Krishna, was admitted to the hospital yesterday. The condition of the other patients was stable. The Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, said one lakh capsules of doxycline and tetracycline had been purchased from Chandigarh for distribution among people in the affected areas.

He said the Rohru area had been divided into seven zones and doctors were deployed there to take precautionary measures and educate the people about the disease.

The Health Minister, Mr J.P. Nadda, held a high-level review of the situation and said a house-to-house survey was being carried out in the affected areas and medicines were being provided to all those who participated in the funeral of Randhir or had come into his contact when he had fallen ill.

A team of doctors has been sent to Kelvi village where Randhir lived. But the area was buried under 5 ft of snow.

Chitleen K. Sethi adds from Chandigarh: As 28-year-old Sulochna breathed her last at the PGI on Thursday morning from what is being thought to be the deadly pneumonic plague, the Director, PGI, constituted a multi-speciality core committee of senior doctors and the Chief Nursing Officer to handle the situation.

Sulochna was the wife of Randhir, the first person to die from plague like symptoms a few days ago. Seven more relatives of the couple are admitted to the PGI with similar symptoms, one of whom is said to be in a serious condition while another is no better. The condition of the rest is stable, according to Dr S. Verma, Head of the Department of Internal Medicine, PGI.

Prof Meera Sharma, Head of the Microbiology Department, PGI, states that the attendants taking care of these patients in the hospital have also been investigated for any symptoms strains of this disease.

Meanwhile, a three-member team which included Dr Avdesh and Dr Chakravarty from the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, New Delhi, stopped over at the PGI this morning on their way to Shimla. They visited the Department of Microbiology and held discussions with the Head there and collected information. The team also held a meeting with Prof S.C. Verma and Prof Rajesh Kumar, Head of the Department of Community Medicine, PGI. ‘‘They were totally satisfied with the arrangements at the PGI to handle any deterioration in the situation,’’ said Dr Rajesh Kumar.

The committee has Dr S. C. Verma as its chairman. Its other members include doctors from the Department of Community Medicine, the Department of Microbiology, the Department of Endocrinology, the Department of Virology and the Department of Pulmonary Medicine and the CNO.

The staff has been put on prophylactic antibiotics, said Dr Verma.

Meanwhile, Sudhir, brother of Randhir attending to the members of his clan at the PGI, says he had no more money left with him.

‘‘Seeing one member of my family dying after another is probably the most painful experience.’’, he says. Naveen, another brother of Randhir, and Satya, Sulochna’s sister, is also said to be in a serious condition.Back

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