10 children die of mysterious disease in J&K's Udhampur

Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir,

Jammu: At least 10 children have died of a mysterious disease and six others taken ill in Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir, prompting the Centre to deploy a team of medical experts to join the probe to ascertain the cause of deaths, a senior officer said on Saturday.

The children's death entailing complaints of fever, vomiting and low urine output were reported from different villages of Ramnagar block of the district over the past fortnight, he said.

"Our survey of the affected area revealed 10 children died of the mysterious disease in an area of 40-kilometre radius in Ramnagar block. The symptoms of the disease include fever and vomiting followed by renal problem," Udhampur's Chief Medical Officer K C Dogra told PTI.

He said six other children, all below the age of four, are still undergoing treatment at different hospitals - three in PGI Chandigarh, two at SMGS Hospital Jammu and one in Ludhiana (Punjab).

"Various teams of doctors from Jammu, Udhampur and the Ramnagar block level are camping in the affected area and we are trying to ascertain the cause of the disease," Dogra said.

An official spokesman said a central team of experts, deployed by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, would soon visit Jammu and Kashmir to investigate the children's death due to unknown etiology, being reported from the Ramnagar block of Udhampur district.

"The team will assist J&K Health Department in ascertaining the cause of deaths and instituting requisite public health measures. The team, upon completion of their activities, will submit a report to Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare," the spokesman said.

He said the visiting team comprises Specialist (Pediatrics) Sumit Mehndiratta of New Delhi's Safdarujing Hospital, Deputy Director (Microbiology) Mahesh Waghmare of the National Center for Disease Control, Delhi and Assistant Director (Epidemiology) Suneet Kaur of Delhi's National Center for Disease Control, besides microbiologist Shilpa Tomar and epidemiologist Avinash Deoshatwar of National Institute Of Virology, Pune.

Udhampur's District Development Commissioner Piyush Singla has already directed the Public Health Engineering Department to collect samples of drinking water for laboratory testing and to ensure safe drinking water is provided to the public.

District health authorities have appealed to the public not to panic and consult doctors in nearby health centres if there is any case having symptoms of fever, vomiting and low urine output.