Firozabad echoes with the wails of grieving mothers whose children succumbed to a mystery fever

Sudama Nagar in Firozabad district wears a shroud of gloom as families in this mohalla have lost kids to a mystery fever that has gripped western Uttar Pradesh. Gaon Connection meets their grief-stricken family members.

Brijendra Dubey
| Updated: September 4th, 2021

Sudama Nagar (Firozabad), Uttar Pradesh

There was no palpable emotion in Pushpinder’s voice as he spoke of his six-year-old son Krishna. “Krishna had a fever, and in two days time he died,” he said tonelessly to Gaon Connection.

Pushpinder from Sudama Nagar in Firozabad, Uttar Pradesh, took his son to a private nursing home close by, but as there was no improvement in his son’s condition even after two days, he shifted the child to SN Medical College, Agra, nearly 50 kms away. “They asked for blood, but by the time we could give it, Krishna expired,” Pushpinder recounted.

Not too far away from Pushpinder’s home in Sudama Nagar, Birendra sat outside his home. From within his home came the loud wails of women.

A family in mourning after losing their child to the mysterious illness. All photos: Brijendra Dubey

“My six-year-old grandson died,” Birendra said. Veer complained of severe stomach ache, felt feverish and was rushed to the nearest government hospital where the family was turned away as there were no beds. “We went to several hospitals and finally took him to Agra where in no more than forty five minutes, he died,” the grieving grandfather told Gaon Connection.

In the same mohalla of Sudama Nagar, is yet another heart broken family. “My seven-year-old son Lucky had a fever. We took him to SN Hospital, Firozabad where the child died on August 31,” the father, a daily wager, told Gaon Connection. “We were told he had dengue… At the hospital, no doctor came for a long time to check my son,” he added.

Also Read: Firozabad mystery fever: Two days of fever and stomach ache, and Manya is now just a memory

A day before Lucky breathed his last, five-year-old Manya, another young resident of Sudama Nagar, died due to fever and severe stomach ache on August 30. “We didn’t even get time to respond properly to her illness. My Manya died two days after she had a fever and stomach ache,” her nani (maternal grandmother) told Gaon Connection.

Mystery fever in Firozabad

Mystery fever is the common thread that runs through these four grieving families in Firozabad, who have all lost a young member in their families. Hundreds more are sick and hospitalised in the district hospital, Firozabad.

This district, about 300 kilometres from the state capital Lucknow, has become the hotbed of a fever outbreak in western Uttar Pradesh. Till yesterday, September 3, at least 50 people, most of them kids, had died in the district. Official reports said that nine blocks and one nagar nigam in Firozabad were affected by this fever.

Reports of young children falling sick due to ‘fever’, and some of them dying, are also pouring in from the neighbouring districts of Mathura, Etah and Agra.

Also Read: Mystery fever grips western Uttar Pradesh; 50 dead in Firozabad and 14 in Mathura, kids worst affected

As the death toll continues to rise in Firozabad, with one more young child dying in the district hospital this morning (September 4), senior officials have descended in the district to monitor and control the spread of the outbreak.

“We are creating additional beds at the Medical College,” Alok Misra, principal secretary, State Medical Education, Uttar Pradesh, told the press this morning after reaching Firozabad. “I will be here for as long as it takes and will be touring the affected areas. This is an outbreak and we are making sustained efforts to clean up the affected areas with fogging, spraying, etc. We are also conducting house to house surveillance,” he added.

The principal secretary said that the district administration was also reaching out to primary health centres (PHCs) and private hospitals for help so that all the pressure does not fall on the district hospital.”

Unsanitary conditions led to the outbreak

Gaon Connection met several residents of Firozabad who complained that the city was filthy with open dumping of garbage and dirty drains, which was the primary cause of the spread of the ‘fever’.

Inhabitants of Sudama Nagar complained that the drains in the area were fetid and rarely cleaned. Only after the death or two was there any move towards spraying. “Even then, it is just outside, nothing is being done inside our homes where mosquitoes breed too,” Pushpinder said. 

“Dengue is rampant. There is no cleaning,” the grieving father continued, whose home Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had visited last week post the son’s death. “Only after the CM came has there been spraying of medicines and cleaning here,” Pushpinder added.

Residents complain the city is filthy with open dumping of garbage and dirty drains.

Also Read: Diarrhoea outbreak in a tribal village in UP’s Sonbhadra leaves a pregnant woman dead and several others in hospital

“Firozabad is in a bad shape. Drains are overflowing, our drinking water is contaminated, the tubewells fall to disrepair every other day.. We have already lost four kids from this area” said Pushpinder. “Most of us living here are daily wagers and poor. What can we do,” he asked. 

“Cleaning in our area began only after my son, Lucky, died,” Sanjay told Gaon Connection. “No one has come to clean the drains before this. Since yesterday, they have been spraying outside,” he said.  

Post mystery fever outbreak, Firozabad district administration has started fogging operations.

“We are taking stringent steps to deal with the problem. We know the cases of viral fever have been increasing since August 31,” Sudhir Bobde, nodal officer, Firozabad, told the press today on September 4. He said a survey was being undertaken of the affected areas and everything was being done to kill the mosquito larvae.

Also Read: Sip of death: A Kol tribe toddler and her great-grandmother dead; several villagers suffer diarrhoea due to polluted water in Mirzapur, UP

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath made a statement today, in which he said in order to contain the spread of the outbreak, a special operation would be carried out in the state under the supervision of senior officers from Lucknow.

“Between September 5 and 12, members of the health department, urban and rural development departments, panchayati raj and the women and child welfare department will work together,” the CM said. “Every family will be screened, their neighbourhoods will be sanitised and a note will be made of the drinking water situation there,” he added. According to Adityanath, such measures were expected to control the spread of diseases such as dengue, encephalitis, cholera, chikungunya, diarrhea, etc.

Additionally, a central team from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is investigating the outbreak and the state government has also stepped up surveillance for dengue and sent medical teams to aid health workers in Firozabad. On September 2, the Union health ministry also sent a team from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to Firozabad to investigate the matter. The first case of the mystery fever was reported on August 18.

Written and edited by Pankaja Srinivasan.