Health alarm in Islamabad

300 Test Positive For Hepatitis-C In South Kashmir Village

CONCERN

MANZOOR-UL-HASSAN

Srinagar, Jan 26: What could spark a major health concern, around 300 persons have tested positive for Hepatitis C virus in Takiya Magam village of South Kashmir’s Islamabad (Anantnag) district.
Public health experts told Greater Kashmir that the investigation by Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP) lab of the Directorate of Health Services confirmed that 30 percent of the 1081 samples tested positive for Hepatitis C virus in the village.
Health experts say the scenario is extremely alarming and an epidemic of very high magnitude. According to them, the suspected source of the outbreak is the unhygienic and unprofessional chemists and diagnostics centers operating in the areas which led to high incidence of the virus.
The health officials including the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the district, Dr Gulzar Ahmad, said the situation was under control as “there is no death due to Hepatitis C”. He has urged villagers not to panic, however the public health experts examining the outbreak are concerned that more people could be affected in the neighboring villages.
“There are a good number of clinics and diagnostic centres operating in and around the area under unhygienic conditions so there are chances that the infection will spread,” Dr Rehana Kounsar, State Surveillance Officer, said. “Hepatitis C is a terrible illness and viral hepatitis often doesn’t present any symptoms until there’s already damage to liver,” she said.
“There is no vaccine for it. At present the screening process is going on in the entire community. We will provide for further testing of those people who test positive,” she said.
Dr SM Qadri, an Epidemiologist in the Health Department said: “No doubt the treatment for the infection is expensive, but there is only five to 10 percent probability of infection causing Chronic Liver Disease depending upon the immunity in the infected persons.”
An expert team from the Directorate of Health Services had taken 1081 blood samples from the area since January 11 after Chief Medical Officer (CMO) reported about the presence of Hepatitis C virus in some patients. “The team visited the area many times and took samples from the people those in close contact with the infected persons,” Dr Qadri said.
He said the Health Department was planning to send the samples to National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) for the Genotyping of the virus. “It will help us to decide about the treatment plan,” Dr Qadri said.

HEALTH, DRUG DEPARTMENT FAILS TO ACT:
The unhygienic chemist shops and dental clinics blamed for the spread of Hepatitis C infection are still operating in the area.
Sources suspected the drug mafia for the passive response from the health officials. “The Health and Drug departments have failed to stop their functioning in the area,” they alleged.
Sources further said that although a joint team of Directorate of Health Services Kashmir and Drug Department visited the area soon after the outbreak of Hepatitis C and announced closure of unhygienic medical shops and some dental clinics and diagnostic centers, there was no follow-up action. The team comprised Assistant Drug Controller, Islamabad (Anantnag) Muhammad Iqbal Palla and Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Islamabad Dr Gulzar Ahmad.
“Earlier, the officials revealed to media that they have initiated action against chemists, medical laboratories and dental clinics for violating the norms and operating in unhygienic conditions. But later most of them have broken the seal and started operating again,” the sources said.

Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 27 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST




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