Cholera spreading,44 new cases detected
PHE Deptt Held Responsible
Srinagar, Aug 28: The cholera outbreak is taking the shape of an epidemic in Kashmir with 44 new cases being reported today taking the total to 70. Apart from the deadly disease which has spread due to contaminated drinking water mainly in Budgam district, several cases of acute gastroenteritis leading to renal failure, jaundice and infection are pouring in from different parts of the Valley.
While the government has been allegedly slow in its response to tackle the serious health concern, the doctors fear the number of cholera cases—an acute bacterial infection—could rise in coming days.
The Public Health Engineering department has admitted the breakdown of drinking water system in Budgam, which has been the epicentre of the disease, many water resources in the district have been tested unsafe for drinking, said health authorities.
Well placed sources told Greater Kashmir that while 33 new cases were tested positive for cholera by the authorities at SMHS here, five of the 30 cases received today from Budgam were confirmed to be cholera patients by the doctors at SKIMS Medical College.
“The disease is fast turning into an epidemic and if drastic measures are not taken by the government, it will engulf the whole Valley,” sources said.
“Every day the SMHS hospital is receiving 10 to 20 cases with cholera like symptoms. We fail to understand why government is shying away from admitting that the cholera epidemic has spread in most parts of Budgam,” said a doctor at SHMS hospital. The institute is likely to set up a separate ward for cholera patients on Sunday.
“It is sad that Directorate of Health has been lazy in response to tackle the disease. In fact the teams sent by the Health department to different parts of Budgam have been treating patients for gastroenteritis and other intestinal infections when the disease is absolute cholera,” sources said.
“Where is the government? It is nowhere,” a senior doctor responded when asked about the slow response from the state Health ministry to control the epidemic. “We are also surprised that the authorities in the Health department are not taking up the matter with the government at higher level and telling them categorically that cholera is fast becoming epidemic in Kashmir. It is the responsibility of the government to bring this serious issue under the notice of World Health Organization,” he said.
A few more cases of cholera were also received from Pantha Chowk on the city outskirts. “It seems the disease is spreading fast,” said a senior doctor at Government Medical College here.
Doctors at the SKIMS Medical College said the acute bacterial disease has been caused due to Vibrio Cholera 0-1 stereotype organism called Ogawa. Till today the institute had received 280 cases of which 30 have been tested positive during past one week.
In what could be an indication that the disease was on spread to other districts, five cases of gastroenteritis from Boatman Colony, Bemina, were received by the SKIMS College today. “We have sent their samples for cholera test,” doctors said.
The GB Panth hospital for children here received eight cases complaining of dehydration, abdominal pain, and vomiting—symptoms of cholera--for past one week.
“Two of them between eight to nine years of age were found to be cholera cases. They were given treatment and discharged. We are waiting for results in two more cases while as the remaining cases were found to be of gastroenteritis which is common in children in this season,” sources said.
Doctors at Budgam district hospital said more than 80 cases complaining of abdominal pain, dehydration and vomiting were reported today taking the total number of cases to 2188 since the outbreak of disease on august 16.
“A total of eight cases have been confirmed by the district hospital for past one week. Since there is no facility in the hospital to test the cases, the institute usually sends the cases to tertiary care hospital in Srinagar,” said a senior doctor at the hospital.
The SKIMS has received 36 cases of gastroenteritis and other infection related cases for past few days. Sources said out of 36 cases, 11 patients had developed renal failure due to acute gastroenteritis. “They were treated and are now stable. We have sent samples of the patients for cholera tests are expecting the reports by tomorrow. But some patients had developed cholera like symptoms. Everything will be clear by Sunday,” sources said.
In Warpora, Handwara, more than 60 people complaining with pain in abdomen, vomiting and dehydration were admitted to the district hospital. “They are under treatment. Everything will be clear within couple of days,” sources said.
The Director Health, Muhammad Amin Wani said they had adopted four-pronged approach to tackle the situation. He said the department has been ensuring “proper treatment” to the patients besides making people aware about the disease through media and measures to be taken through media and visiting the affected places.
“There is no doubt it is cholera and good number of patients are suffering from it. But there are large numbers of cases wherein patients have been suffering from non-specific diarrhea and mixed infection.
The PHE has admitted breakdown of drinking water system in district Budgam, the Director said, adding 21 samples of water taken from the resources in different areas of Budgam had been found unsafe for drinking.
He said the Integrated Disease Surveillance department in the Union Ministry for Health and Family Affairs has been informed about the outbreak of the disease. “However they have expressed satisfaction with our plan to handle the disease. It is for them to take up the issue with the World Health Organization,” Dr Wani said. The department has advised people across the Valley to use clean and chemically treated water.
Asserting that government was taking measures to treat the disease and stop its spread, the Minister for Health, SL Sharma, told Greater Kashmir that he has taken up the matter of unsafe drinking water in Budgam with PHE ministry. “They are responsible to provide clean and safe drinking water to people,” he said.
Responding to the cholera outbreak, the Government Medical College Saturday decided to set up a separate ward in SMHS hospital.
Sources said the GMC principal, Dr Shahida Mir, took up the matter with the Health minister and following a discussion it was decided that ward No. 5 would be kept for cholera patients.
Dr Mir said the GMC has ordered for supply of vaccines and other drugs to treat the patients. “The drugs will be kept available to the patients at the counter in SHMS hospital,” she said.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 28 Aug 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 28 Aug 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 29 Aug 2010 00:00:00 IST
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