On 14 September, Sushila bid farewell to her eldest daughter Supriya all by herself, having taken her body from Hyderabad to Nellore, the family’s native village. The 18-year-old had succumbed to dengue the previous day. Sushila’s husband G Nageshwar Rao was not by her side as he was grieving by himself, keeping vigil outside the ICU of a private hospital in Hyderabad. That was because the couple’s other two children – Sanjana (5) and Suryanarayana (7) – were both admitted to the ICU. Like Supriya, they too were suffering from dengue.
Rao is a construction supervisor and the family live near Narketpally in Nalgonda district of Telangana. Supriya’s cousin, Gopi who has done B.Tech told Filter Kaapi that the sanitation levels around their home in Kattangoor mandal are abysmal, an open invitation to dengue, malaria and other vector-borne diseases.
Supriya (in pic) was lost because precious time was lost in diagnosing dengue. She had been complaining of stomach ache and was not eating well, following which the local hospital asked for tests to be done. Gopi says Supriya tested positive for dengue and spent three days at the hospital.
“On 11 September night, she started bleeding and the doctors and paramedics struggled to control it for 6-8 hours. We were told this happens when the dengue case gets worse. On 12th morning, they gave up and asked us to rush her to the hospital in Hyderabad, 80 km away. But by then, it was too late. She passed away on 13th afternoon,” says Gopi.
Sanjana was also brought to the same hospital in Hyderabad on the 12th. She was vomiting and her platelet count and blood pressure were low.
“She was suffering from severe dengue hepatitis tested by both NS1 and Elisa, there was fluid in the abdomen, her platelet count which should be at least 1.5 lakh had dipped to 30000,” said the doctor who realised Sanjana was critical.
Suryanarayana (in pic below) was brought to hospital hours after Supriya had passed away. His eyes were swollen because he was crying inconsolably, grieving for his sister Supriya. His platelet count was still in the safe zone at 2 lakh but the doctors panicked when they examined him. Suryanarayana’s BP was not even recordable – it was so low – and the pulse was extremely weak. They realised that if he was not treated immediately, he could go into shock.
The government of Telangana only has to visit this private hospital to know how serious the dengue crisis is. The paediatrician told Filter Kaapi that in the first 15 days of September, she has seen over 60 dengue positive cases. That included even a newborn dengue positive born to a dengue positive mother. Overall, this monsoon season, the doctor says the count of dengue positive cases under her team’s watch at the hospital has exceeded 150, with four deaths recorded so far.
“In the case of Sanjana and Suryanarayana, it was good they brought them to the hospital in the nick of time instead of trying treatment at a local clinic near their home like in Supriya’s case,” says the doctor.
The doctor or the hospital did not wish to be identified because the state government has reportedly given oral instructions not to mention dengue cases or speak about them to the media. In fact, Supriya’s death certificate, a copy of which is available with Filter Kaapi, mentions “undifferentiated fever” and not dengue. Sanjana was discharged on 16 September but Suryanarayana continues to be in hospital. He is out of the ICU.
If the trauma of losing Supriya was not enough, the parents are now staring at mounting debts. Nageshwar Rao says the hospital bill has already run up to Rs 2.35 lakh. He has been told by the hospital that though the family is covered under Arogyasri, the insurance scheme of the Telangana government, the scheme does not cover dengue. Nageshwar Rao borrowed Rs 2 lakh from a moneylender at an exorbitant rate of interest (Rs 2 for every 100 rupees) to pay the hospital bills.
Editor’s note : Many readers of Filter Kaapi have expressed a desire to help the family, after reading the story. These are the bank account details of the father, in case any of you would want to help.
Account in the name of : Gundu Nageshwar Rao
Bank : State Bank of India, Aitipamula, Kattangur Mandal, Telangana
Account number : S/B 31921802408
IFSC code : SBIN0008807