For more than a week, children in some districts of the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh have been waking up with high fever and drenched in sweat.
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Many of them complained of joint pain, headaches, dehydration and nausea. In some cases, the psoriasis spreads to the legs and arms.
At least 50 people, mostly children, have died of the flu and several hundred have been admitted to hospitals in six districts in the eastern part of the state.
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None of the dead had a Govt-19 infection.
At a time when India appears to be slowly recovering from a second wave of the deadly corona virus, deaths in Uttar Pradesh have made headlines about the “mystery flu” spreading across the country’s most populous state.
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Doctors in some of the affected districts (Agra, Mathura, Mainpuri, Etta, Kasganj and Firozabad) believe that mosquito-borne viral infections may be the leading cause of death.
They say many patients are taken to the hospital with low levels of platelets (the blood cells needed for blood clotting), which characterizes the severe form of dengue.
“Patients in hospitals, especially children, are dying very quickly,” says Dr Neeta Kulsharesta, the district’s top health official, who said 40 people, including 32 minors, died last week.
Transmitted by female mosquitoes, dengue is primarily a tropical disease and has been spreading in India for hundreds of years.
It is spread over more than 100 countries, but About 70% of cases are in Asia.
There are four viruses that carry the disease, and children are five times more likely to die during a second outbreak of dengue than adults.
Mosquito Aedes aegypti Breeding in and around homes in containers with fresh water.
“Humans provide breeding grounds, and only they can prevent it,” said Dr. John H. Snyder, one of the world’s leading experts on mosquito-borne viruses.
Nearly 100 million severe dengue cases (including severe bleeding and organ damage) are reported worldwide each year.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “the combined impact of Govt-19 and dengue epidemics could have catastrophic consequences for people at risk.
However still It is not known whether it is the sole cause of a dengue infection Flu-related deaths in Uttar Pradesh.
In a state with more than 200 million people and traditionally poor health, child malnutrition and irregular medical care, cases of “mystery flu” continue to be reported every two years after the monsoon.
In 1978, Japanese encephalitis, first transmitted by mosquitoes in Uttar Pradesh, claimed more than 6,500 lives.
The disease spread mainly through the border districts of Nepal in the foothills of Gorakhpur and the Himalayas, infecting all lowland and flood affected and breeding mosquitoes that carry the virus.
The vaccination campaign, which began in 2013, has led to a drop in cases, But the children are still dying
So far this year, 17 children have died of Japanese encephalitis in Gorakhpur and 428 cases have been reported.
In 2014, amid growing deaths from encephalitis and heart attack (inflammation of the heart muscle), scientists studied 250 children affected in Gorakhpur.
160 of them were found to have antibodies against the bacteria, which is called bush fever.
Also known as scrub typhus, it is a bacterial infection that is spread by the bite of an infected insect.
They settle in the lush vegetation of the villages after the monsoon.
Scientists found pests on firewood stored by villagers inside their homes.
Bush typhus is most often spread when children handle firewood at home or defecate in the open in bush-infested bushes.
In a separate study, scientists found that scrub typhus and dengue were primarily responsible for cases of flu following monsoon rains in six districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh between 2015 and 2019.
Another life-threatening bacterial infection called leptospirosis, which is transmitted from animals to humans, and chikungunya, a disease transmitted by mosquitoes, explained other flu-causing pathogens.
V Ravi, a professor of virology at the National Institute of Psychiatry and Neuroscience (Nimhans), who led the second study, said, “There were many flu-related diseases in the region after the rainy season.”
“Proper monitoring is needed to diagnose and treat these diseases,” he added.
Earlier in 2006, scientists studied another “mysterious” outbreak of the flu among children in Uttar Pradesh.
This time they found the children Cassia died after eating beans, Grew abundantly in the western part of the state.
This food poisoning is the result of “poverty, hunger, lack of parental supervision, ignorance, children playing alone, not getting toys and easy access to the plant”.
Clearly, only further research and genetic analysis will reveal whether the recent wave of “mysterious fevers” in India was triggered by dengue or by several diseases.
It will train local clinics and hospitals to collect samples from people with the flu and send them to laboratories for genetic testing.
Moreover, there is no clear record of how this flu started and progressed; And whether the severity of the condition is determined by the long and arduous journeys that people have to make to government hospitals for treatment.
Or if the affected children are suffering from other conditions such as tuberculosis.
If dengue is the only cause of mysterious deaths, it points to the government’s mosquito control plans.
According to Dr. Holstein, the severity of the outbreak can only be determined by age through antibody tests called serological surveys.
“If we don’t investigate properly and properly, many things will remain a mystery,” says an Indian antiviral doctor, who wants to remain anonymous.
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