Indian health authorities are rushing medical supplies to north Indian towns and villages where at least 50 people have died from fever over the past two weeks, topping the number of fever-related deaths over a three-month period last year.
Patients suffering from fever and bouts of shivering are crowding hospitals in the Rohilkhand region, according to Dr. Vineet Shukla, a senior Uttar Pradesh state health official in Bareilly, 250 kilometers (155 miles) southwest of Lucknow, the state capital. One district hospital has received more than 1,500 patients since Aug. 30.
“We do not have enough beds to keep them,” Shukla said, adding that the cause of the fevers was not immediately known.
The state’s head medical doctor, Padmakar Singh, said makeshift clinics equipped with malaria kits were being set up in villages where fever-related sicknesses had been reported. Mosquito control vehicles have also sprayed insecticide.
Mahendra Lal, head of the village of Hasanpur in Bareilly, said more than two out of three people in the village of 300 residents had fallen ill. He said those who could have traveled to nearby cities for treatment in private hospitals.
Mohammed Sadiq, a resident of Hasanpur, said his wife died from fever last week.
“I lost my wife because I stayed back with a hope that doctors will come and give treatment. She would have been alive today if I too had moved out to some big city,” he said.
More than 200 million people live in impoverished Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state. Thousands of people suffer from encephalitis, malaria, typhoid and other mosquito-borne diseases each year during the summer monsoon.
Health authorities said there were 47 fever-related deaths during a three-month period starting at the end of July last year.
Mehtab Alam of the Raza Husain Memorial Charitable Society said the actual death toll over the past two weeks may be far higher than government estimates. Alam said the government’s count did not include deaths in private hospitals or in villages where sick people had not sought medical help.
“You can find patients in every village,” Alam said, adding that “they get initial treatment from quacks but once the condition deteriorates they are rushed to government hospitals. By that time it is too late.”
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