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SASTM Newsflash - Malaria: India (Update)

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MALARIA - INDIA: UPDATE

 

Malaria is turning virulent (severe), as doctors at PGI [Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research] and Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) are coming across complicated symptoms, including renal failure, following the ailment. The condition is no more limited to chills and fever. The disease is also bringing along dengue-like dips in platelet counts and jaundice.

 

Besides Chandigarh, cases are pouring in from Karnal, Kurukshetra, Ropar, Yamunanagar, Kaithal and Saharanpur (UP), among others. In the last 2 months [Aug-Sep 2013], 1148 samples have been collected from the 2 hospitals. "Of these, we found 30 positive for malaria. We have to get other tests and analyses done," said Dr Rakesh Sehgal, main investigator, PGI department of medical parasitology.

 

_Plasmodium vivax_ is the most common malaria found in India with a 50-80 percent prevalence. However, it does not result in complications as does falciparum, which is the most lethal form.

 

"We have been approached by medicine specialists at PGI and GMCH who have come across malaria cases in severe forms. These are due to vivax, but the symptoms are similar to the ones caused by falciparum. This is worrying. So we have started research to find the reason for the virulent form of malaria," said Dr Sehgal.

 

Cautious about the coming months when there might be a spurt in malaria cases, he said: "We will go to the areas where the incidence is high. The middle of the coming month [November] will be suitable for the survey, as malaria-causing mosquitoes breed during the season."

 

The unusual symptoms are baffling the doctors. "About 90 percent of our emergency is crowded with malaria cases of severe form. Patients are coming from Karnal, Kurukshetra, Ropar, Yamunanagar, Kaithal and Saharanpur (UP), among others," said a senior doctor of GMCH department of medicine.

 

Doctors have been seeing such cases for 2 to 3 years. Concerned over the increasing number of such patients over the years, PGI's medical parasitology department has initiated research to find out whether the genetics of malaria-causing parasites have changed or whether the response following the bite of the vector (on the human host) has undergone a change.

 

"We got worried when such cases started pouring in. We have entered into a collaborative study with GMCH to ascertain the cause. Once the cause is known, the problem can be tackled," he added.

 

Communicated by: ProMED-mail

 

Orissa has recorded the maximum number of cases of malaria in the January-July period this year [2013], followed by Chhattisgarh, while Kerala registered the largest number of dengue victims, followed by Karnataka.

 

89 466 cases of malaria were reported from Orissa followed by Chhattisgarh, which recorded 31 940 cases. Jharkhand reported 26 489 cases, while Maharashtra reported 17 060 cases followed by Gujarat, Assam, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh.

 

However, Maharashtra, which reported 17 060 cases of malaria, recorded the highest number of deaths at 24 followed by Orissa (20). No fatalities due to malaria were reported from any other state.

 

 


 

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