Dengue behind ‘mystery deaths’ in Panchkula: PGIMER experts

Most of the mysterious deaths baffling doctors over the past month in Panchkula can be attributed to dengue, experts from Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) said on Tuesday.

The possibility of the deaths being caused due to dengue, which also causes high-grade fever, similar to the one being reported among patients, was earlier roundly refuted by the Panchkula health department. The health bulletin also shows that only one person succumbed to the vector-borne disease in Panchkula over the last month.

Professor Arun Aggarwal, the head of community medicine and school of public health, said, “Of course, more than one person has succumbed to dengue in the district. Preliminary findings show that a large number of deaths were potentially caused due to dengue.” He, however, could not give an exact number.

It was on the request of the chief medical officer (CMO) Dr Mukta Kumar that a team from PGIMER was roped in to probe the reason for a sudden rise in deaths among patients due to high fever.

Dr Mankirat, spokesperson for the CMO, said, “PGIMER experts have not given us anything in writing and so far only one death has been attributed to dengue. I do not know about any verbal communication that my have been passed between senior officers.”

Aggarwal said, “The team is carrying out their probe, but we have told the administration not to wait for the results, and immediately take action to sensitise doctors and check the spread of dengue.”

Refresher course for doctors

The PGIMER experts have asked the administration to provide a refresher course to doctors, in both the public and private sector, on how to manage dengue fever. “Most doctors provide glucose to patients, which leads to plasma leakage, sending the patient into shock and ultimately causing death,” Aggarwal said, adding that those suffering from high-grade fever ought to be given normal saline.

Pawan Kumar Bhatt, whose 13-year-old son “died of dengue” says, “My son was taken to a private hospital and administered a drip. He was discharged from the hospita, but later died of kidney and heart failure.”

‘Cases mismanaged’

Saying that the treatment being administered was at fault, Aggarwal said, “It was seen that fever patients were sent back home after initial treatment, where their condition deteriorated and they died. In these cases, intense monitoring is needed. So, doctors must be told not to send back patients till the time they are out of danger.”

“At times, doctors refer fever patients, which may lead to complications, in case there is swelling in the brain,” he said. This was seen in the case of 47-year-old Mukesh Kumar of Pinjore. His cousin Dheeraj said, “The high fever caused swelling in his brain. The local doctors referred him to PGIMER, Chandigarh, where he succumbed on September 14.”