Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A peculiar type of fever is spreading in Kerala. At least one person in a family is affected by this. It is in fact known as ‘Pakarcha pani’, meaning ‘the fever that spreads’. The initial symptoms are pain in the joints, headache and coughing. I have not seen a disease as endemic as this in the last two decades in Kerala. This is said to be caused by a virus, for which human beings seem to be mere hyperlinks. It is merrily clicking on one person to open the disease on another.

The effects of this fever on society are manifold. Apart from the utter discomforts that sometimes escalate to severe pain in the backbone and limbs, financial problems such as loss of the day’s work and salary (for daily laborers) and generally high hospital expenses also stare affected persons. The government claims to have taken several steps to tackle the disease. But only visible steps are increasing the staff strength (in truth only filling the existing vacancies) and issuing stern circulars to hospital administrators. But most affected people approach private hospitals, which are jam-packed. Indian Medical Association (IMA) is conducting special camps to treat this fever. Despite their efforts the disease is spreading like cell phone use in Kerala. The only people who are happy with the outbreak of fever may be the private hospital owners as this has turned out to be a windfall for them.

In Kerala, nothing goes without political ramifications. The Left Front government accuses the former United Front government for ignoring the warning of central agencies about possibilities for the outbreak of fever. The United Front is now in the opposition and they accuse government of inaction. In fact, the opposition had planned a harthal against fever, err inaction of government against fever. But for undisclosed reasons harthal was first postponed and then abandoned. This is one of the rare instances when a harthal call was abandoned in Kerala.