Fungal Infection From Boro Paddy Blinds Eyes
A fungal infection from Boro paddy that blinds eye within days has created a panic among rural people and alarmed doctors at the district town.
An eye is infected with the fungus called Asperagellus when it comes in contact with ripe Boro paddy. A severe pain and swelling starts immediately. If proper treatment is not done within three-four days, the cornea is damaged and the eye has to be removed because the infection spreads to the other eye also, doctors at Rangpur Medical College Hospital (RMCH) and at private clinics told this correspondent.
Tarsorrhaphy, a kind of surgical operation, is the only treatment, said eye surgeon Dr GKM Afzal Khan at RMCH on Thursday
The fungus grows on ripe Boro paddy during summer due to excessive humidity in the air, he said. He did not rule out the possibility when asked the fungus could grow from use of powerful insecticides.
A large number of farmers and labourers are coming to RMCH and other hospitals in the town with eye infection every day.
At least five patients are being admitted to the RMCH eye ward daily since the Boro harvest began this year, Dr Afzal Khan said. Many others are being treated.
"We faced such cases once five years back, but the number this year is huge and unprecedented," he said.
"Medicine and ointment may temporarily cure a less infected eye but in the long run two eyes (of an infected person) become blind if operation is not done", he said.
Dr Khairul Islam, an eye surgeon and Executive Director of Community Eye Care and Research Centre (CECRC) at Rangpur town said, "Eyes of at least seven patients were operation upon every day at the hospital in the last fifteen days".
"The rush of patients is really alarming."
He said most of the patients come at a stage when it is too late to be cured with medicine.
Moreover, wrong diagnosis by village doctors leads to a critical situation. They usually prescribe antibiotic and steroid eyedrops. The condition deteriorates within hours after use of these eyedrops.
"No alternative to operation is left then," Dr Islam said.
Sohag, 8, son of Aftabuzzaman of Pandul village in Ulipur upzila in Kurigram district, was admitted to RMCH seven days back. Doctors removed his right eye as the cornea was "totally damaged" by fungal infection after a Boro paddy accidentally fell on it.
Taslim, 32, son of late Montaz Ali of Deodoba in Sunderganj upzila in Gibandha district, underwent operation on the left eye at a private clinic on Wednesday. He said he felt pain and the eye started swelling soon after a Boro paddy hit it during thrashing after harvest. He could not see with that eye since then.
Harun-or-Rashid, 14, an SSC examinee from Deodoba in Sunderganj upzila in Gibandha, said a Boro paddy fell on his left eye on Saturday last when some labourers
were thrashing paddy on the yard. He felt severe pain. He went to a local doctor who referred him to RMCH. An eye surgeon operated upon his eye on Monday at a private clinic.
Milon, 13, came to RMCH from Mohideb village in Bhrungamari in Kurigram district. His father Samad told this correspondent that doctors suggested operation on his right eye. But he is so poor to afford it.
Rakib, 7, son of Anisur Rahman of Mohipur in Gangachara upzila was admitted to the RMCH eye ward on Wednesday. His mother Lizu Begum said some Boro plants hit his eyes eight days back. They did not care. Next day, Rakib felt pain in the eyes. Doctors have suggested operation, she said. "My husband is a poor day labourer. How can I manage the cost?" she lamented.
Doctors said a large number of eye patients are coming from different areas of Rangpur, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Gibandha and Nilphamari districts.
When contacted, Ainul Hauqe, Deputy Director of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), Rangpur said he has no information about such infection from Boro paddy (Daily Star, May 29, 2004).
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