Perpetually ill prepared
it was in October 2002 that media reports surfaced about children succumbing to a mysterious infectious fever in Saharanpur town of western Uttar Pradesh (up). The disease struck neighbouring districts too. Within the first two weeks the toll reportedly mounted to 100 in the area. The local administration first denied that there was an outbreak and then dismissed it as an annual occurrence.
The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (nicd), the nodal body for epidemiological research, was not even aware of the development till the media reported it. The institute's team has till now confirmed Japanese encephalitis (je) in three of the samples collected. Even this has been contradicted by one of its own entomologists. "We have still not detected the cause,' says team leader Awadesh Kumar.
It is noteworthy that the real reason behind the Saharanpur epidemic figuring prominently in the news is the rivalry between two medical officers