Mumbai measles outbreak: 'Maata Aayi Hai' thought boy's father, turns to home remedies; child in critical condition now

One-year-old Rayesh Gupta had developed red rashes all over his body a fortnight ago; however, his father Rajendra turned to religion and traditional practices to deal with symptoms. He was admitted to hospital only after his condition deteriorated.

Swapnil MishraUpdated: Thursday, November 17, 2022, 01:23 PM IST
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Measles (Representative Image) | NIH Medline Plus

Thirteen days ago when one-year-old Rayesh Gupta developed red rashes all over his body and developed a fever, his father Rajendra did not visit a doctor but instead turned to religion and traditional practices to deal with the symptoms.

The Nalasopra-based family stuck to vegetarian food and fanned the infant with neem leaves (Azadirachta indica). The family thought ‘Mata aayi hai’ – Mother has come – and offered food to a deity, the father said.

A week later, however, when the boy’s condition deteriorated, Gupta brought him to Kasturba Hospital for Infectious Diseases, Chinchpokli. The doctors found he was suffering from measles and put the infant on a ventilator last Friday.

Rayesh's condition continues to be critical, and the family now regrets not taking medical help on time. Gupta said Rayesh was not well for the past month and was admitted to a private hospital in Nalasopara after he contracted pneumonia. But the doctors discharged him on November 5 and within two days he developed red rashes on his face, which spread all across the body.

The family believed it was a ‘Mata’ and followed home remedies, which made his condition worse, as he again developed pneumonia. “It was our biggest mistake. We had been told since childhood that people developed rashes when they are spiritually possessed, or as we say, ‘Mata ana.’ So we started to follow religious remedies, but now he has ended up in the intensive care unit,” Gupta said.

Gupta also admitted that the family had stopped following the child immunisation schedule after Rayesh developed a fever following a vaccine course, a common side effect.

One of their neighbours had advised the family that the vaccine was making the boy ill, he said.

As per the hospital, Rayesh's health condition is ‘quite serious.

Spate of measles cases in city

There have been a spate of measles cases in Mumbai recently. Tabassum Ansari, a resident of Bhiwandi, moved her six-month-old daughter Sakina to Kasturba Hospital last Friday, after the girl’s condition failed to improve at a private facility.

“Sakina had a fever and we took her to a nearby hospital. She developed red rashes all over her body and the doctors confirmed that it was measles. Later the hospital administration completed all paperwork and shifted her to Kasturba Hospital. Currently she is stable and responding to the treatment,” Ansari said.

Delay in hospitalisation increases gravity of cases: Doctors

Dr Chandrakant Pawar, Medical Superintendent at Kasturba, said it is too early to say why the cases are so serious. Delay in hospitalisation is one cause, he said. “We have patients with pneumonia and other complications due to which immunity level has dropped and they are contracting infections faster,” he said.

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