On Wednesday, a one-day old baby boy was taken back home from Yashoda Hospital in Secunderabad. But what was heart-rending was the sight of the newborn travelling with his dead mother by his side.
Twenty four hours after her delivery, Gudimella Sona had passed away, a victim of suspected dengue. Doctors had kept the baby in the NICU through Tuesday, monitoring him for dengue-related symptoms as well. Hailing from Mancherial district in north Telangana, Sona was the fourth death in her family in the last two weeks.
A fortnight ago, Sona’s husband, Rajagattu who worked as a teacher at a private school in Mancherial had developed high fever. A NS1 test confirmed he had tested positive for dengue. The 34-year-old was taken to a private hospital in Karimnagar, 80 km away, where his platelet count plummeted to 33000 (it should be in the 1.5-4 lakh range) and he started bleeding, symptoms associated with dengue. He died on 16 October. The death certificate mentions cardio-pulmonary arrest, septic shock, dengue fever and multiple organ dysfunction as the cause of Rajagattu’s death.
Back home, Rajagattu’s grandfather 70-year-old Lingaiah who lived six houses away in Sri Sri Nagar in Mancherial town, developed similar symptoms and died five days later. On Diwali night, Srivarshini, the daughter of Sona and Rajagattu who was initially treated by a local paediatrician before being rushed to a private hospital, also died.
Sona who was expecting her child any moment, was rushed to Yashoda Hospital because she had also contracted dengue-like symptoms. Her delivery was done through a C-section. Even before the 27-year-old came to Secunderabad, her platelet count had slipped into the danger zone at 77000.
Taken aback at the tragedies in the same family, a team of entomologists rushed to Mancherial to collect water samples and also check the sanitation in the locality.
“The house is close to the highway so it is not as if there are water puddles. The team collected water samples to check on the possible cause,” said Dr A Bheeshma, the district Medical and Health officer.
The officials would do well to get the profiling done of other members in the neighbourhood because four members of a family – three of them living in the same house – getting affected, is worrying.
This monsoon season, Mancherial reported 67 cases of dengue but no deaths till tragedy struck this family. Though district officials have been patting themselves on the back on creating awareness about the importance of sanitation, locals have been complaining of poor sanitation to the district collector all through September on the same social media platforms.
The Telangana High court has in the last few hearings, come down heavily on the state government’s inability to tackle dengue. A magistrate from Khammam district passed away due to dengue last week. Chief Secretary SK Joshi had blamed the Election Model Code of Conduct for not being able to effectively tackle dengue.