Villagers are shocked by the death of three children in Rampur Dhabi village of Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh. Symptoms such as high fever, seizures and foaming of the mouth were seen in these children. The cause of death has not yet been confirmed, but health officials suspect neurocysticercosis. What is this disease and how does it spread?
Brijendra Dubey 25 Nov 2021
Rampur Dhabhi (Mirzapur), Uttar Pradesh. On November 6, three children – Kajal (7), Ansh (6), and Aanchal (5) – went to tuition in Mirzapur’s Rampur Dhabi village, about half a kilometer from their home. Soon after arriving there, the three children – two siblings and their cousins - developed chills and shortness of breath. Seeing their deteriorating condition, the teacher informed their parents, after which Aanchal and Kajal’s father Kallu Sonkar reached the school within minutes. “I took all the three kids back home on my bike. They were all in bad shape and seemed to have lost control of their bodies. White foam was coming out of their mouths,” says SC Dalit Sonkar told Gaon Connection. Grieving family members. All photos: Brijendra Dubey Despite taking the children to the doctor, all three died within three days. And these three deaths have shaken the whole village. Incidentally, on June 10 this year, Anshu, the youngest three-year-old in the Sonkar family, also died of similar symptoms. The mysterious death of these children in Rampur Dhabi village, about 300 km from state capital Lucknow, has worried the district administration in Mirzapur. On the instructions of Chief Medical Officer (CMO) PD Gupta, the health team conducted a health check-up of other children of the village to ascertain whether they were showing any signs of infection. Bindu – Mother of the deceased Ansh. “The three children who died showed symptoms that are common to a disease called neurocysticercosis. It is a disease caused by tapeworm infection that is common in areas where pig farming is prevalent,” Gupta told Village Connection. told. “The reports of other children in the village did not suggest that they were infected with any disease,” he said. Meanwhile, out of the three dead children, two children, Kajal (7) and Ansh (6) were not clinically tested, but the third child, Aanchal (5), was tested positive, which came back positive. The Widal test is done to detect infection in the body. Kallu Sonkar The people of Rampur Dhabhi village are in panic due to these mysterious deaths of children. The children died of similar symptoms – shivering, cold, high fever, seizures and a white foamy discharge from the mouth. Health officials unaware of the cause of death While there is no final word on how Kajal (7), Ansh (6), and Aanchal (5) died. Mirzapur CMO told Gaon Connection that as the post-mortem or CT scan of the three children could not be done, it is difficult to ascertain the exact cause of death. “It is difficult to know the exact cause. As a preventive measure, we have tested other children in the neighborhood and their reports are normal,” Gupta told Gaon Connection. The CMO said that the three children who died may also have some hereditary disease. Meanwhile, DK Singh, in-charge of the Regional Community Health Center in Rajgarh, told Gaon Connection that the three children showed symptoms of epilepsy and started having seizures. “Whenever people experience seizures, it is important to keep them in a safe upright position, otherwise the discharge from the mouth can scare the patient. Villagers are not aware of these things and it can lead to the death of children.” Mirzapur CMO PD Gupta Dirty conditions in the village When Gaon Connection visited Rampur Dhabi village, pig-keepers were found in the vicinity of Sonkar’s house. CMO Gupta had indicated the cause of death of these children to be neurocysticercosis. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person gets neurocysticercosis by swallowing microscopic eggs passed in a person’s feces, which is infested with the intestinal pork tapeworm. “For example, a person eats undercooked, infected pork and gets a tapeworm infection in the intestines. She lays tapeworm eggs in her stool. If she doesn’t wash her hands properly after using the bathroom , then she may contaminate food or surfaces with feces containing these eggs,” reads the CDC’s official website. “These eggs pass into another person’s stomach if they eat contaminated food. Once inside the body, the eggs hatch and become larvae that find their way into the brain. These larvae cause neurocysticercosis,” Further information is given. Aanchal’s test report When asked if the family eats pork, Ansh’s father Rakesh Sonkar denied. “We never eat pork, although some of our relatives who keep pigs in the village may be eating it. Our children also never eat pork,” he told Gaon Connection. A villager told Gaon Connection on the condition of anonymity that open defecation is prevalent in the village and children often defecate in the open without wearing shoes. Meanwhile, a research journal written by German sociologist Maren Belwinkel-Schamp and published in the Sociological Bulletin in the September 1998 edition noted that the castes to which Sonkar belonged are engaged in pig breeding and pork butchering. Known. lack of health care On November 6, when the three children suddenly fell ill, the family members took the children to a quacks in Ahraura, which is located 15 km from their village. There was no relief from his treatment. When there was no improvement in health after getting treatment from a quackery doctor, the members of the families also went to the scavengers. Seven-year-old Kajal died on the same day on November 6. The next day, on November 7, six-year-old Ansh died. The elders then decided to take five-year-old Aanchal to a private nursing home 57 km away in the neighboring district of Sonbhadra. None of these children were taken to any government hospital in Mirzapur. Kallu Sonkar gave Aanchal’s test report to Gaon Connection, which revealed that doctors suggested a blood test along with the Vidal test. The test came back positive, while the blood test showed high levels of urea and white blood cells. But soon after, doctors at the hospital told the family that they could not help stabilize the child’s condition and Aanchal died soon after on November 9.