Amid rising cases of children suffering from fever, cough and respiratory distress, their subsequent admission in the Siliguri District Hospital (SDH), officials today said that the nasopharyngeal swab and blood samples will be sent to the Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine (STM) for examination.
The hospital is overwhelmed with mothers visiting doctors with their children at the outpatient department, while a shortage of beds has led to many children to undergo treatment on the floor of the paediatrics ward. There are
34 beds in the ward. Meanwhile, five dengue and six scrub typhus cases have been detected at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH) in the past one week, NBMCH officials said.
According to doctors there, the cases were found among both adults and children, but that the number of children was negligible. The symptoms of scrub typhus are fever, headache, muscle pain, cough, vomiting and diarrhoea, they added.
The deputy chief medical officer of health-II, Darjeeling, Dr Tulsi Pramanik, held a meeting with SDH authorities to review the situation today. According to the hospital medical superintendent, Dr Pradipta Bhattacharya, the increasing trend of children visiting the hospital continued today.
As doctors try to figure out what exactly is causing the illnesses among the children, sources said the health department has decided to send some samples to the premier medical institute in Kolkata.
“It appears to be viral infection, but it cannot be specified. It has been decided that some nasopharyngeal swab, blood samples of the children admitted in the SDH will be sent to the Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine for examination, so that it can specify the disease. Routine investigations are on,” the sources said. Twenty-six children suffering from fever, cold and cough were admitted in the paediatric ward of the NBMCH till morning today.
Health department officials claimed that the number of paediatric patients was 86 (up to today) in Darjeeling district–38 were admitted in the last 24 hours and 19 were discharged. Three paediatric patients are in critical condition, it is learnt.
According to the Director of health services, Dr Ajoy Chakraborty, two Influenza B and two RS virus cases and another one mixed with both the viruses were identified in 10 samples sent from the Jalpaiguri District Hospital for testing at the STM.
An experts’ group met today at Swasthya Bhaban and discussed the matter, it is learnt. “We discussed the diagnostic protocol, treatment protocol, the protocol for Intensive care unit and oxygen therapy. The experts explained about the treatment protocol,” Dr Chakraborty said.
The head of the department of tropical medicine, STM, Dr Bibhuti Saha, focused on the health department investigating and excluding malaria, dengue, Covid-19, scrub typhus etc, “because not all patients are similar and not all are viral or influenza.”
“In order to increase the laboratory capacity, kits will be procured to identify different respiratory viruses and set-up at the STM and NBMCH,” Dr Chakraborty said. At the SDH, many parents, meanwhile, alleged that doctors were not attending to their children properly.
“My four-year-old daughter Anuska Kumari has been admitted here with fever, cough and cold. The doctors did not attend her until 12 pm today after she was bought here last evening. Her chest X-ray has been conducted, but we have not been informed about the reports. I tried to meet the doctors but did not find them,” said one Kundan Jha.
Sharea Khatun said she did not get a bed for her one-year-old daughter Sagina. “We did not get any bed here, so having no option, we are on the floor,” a resident of Kuli Para in Siliguri said. Officials said between July and September, the highest number of children had been admitted in Jalpaiguri District Hospital (2279) in 2017. It was 2049 in 2018, and 2083 in 2019. The figure was 640 last year and 1195 between July and 14 September this year.
Doctors, on the other hand, said parents usually did not carry children to hospitals in view of the coronavirus pandemic last year and that had triggered a drop in the rate of admission.