2 Kupwara villages hit by water-borne diseases

2 Kupwara villages hit by water-borne diseases

Sample tests show faecal, sewerage contamination; water supplied found unfit for human consumption

The drinking water supplied to two villages of Kupwara district which have been hit by water-borne diseases has been found “unfit for human consumption” as per an official report by health department.

Five days after hundreds of people were taken ill by acute diarrheal diseases and gastroenteritis in Jagerpora and Kaweri villages of district Kupwara, health department has submitted report on the quality of water to the government.

As per the report, a copy of which has been accessed by Greater Kashmir, the water samples taken from two drinking water sources— a spring and a reservoir in the affected villages— have been found “so contaminated with microbes” as to be “not fit for human consumption as per biological standards”.

The water samples, tested at public health laboratory Handwara have been found to have a “very high” Most Probable Number (MPN), a measurement of degree of contamination by coliform bacteria.

The bacteria are responsible for causing diarrhoea and gastroenteritis in humans and its presence in drinking water indicates faecal or sewerage contamination.

The spring water sample taken from Machbhawan in Jagerpora has an MPN count of 43, while the reservoir water from the same area has been found to have MPN count of 35.

Both the sources have been graded as “unsatisfactory”. As per health department, a coliform count of zero in water gets it an “excellent grade” while a coliform count of over 10 makes it unsatisfactory.

Water borne diseases have taken toll on about 20 percent of population of these villages. As per the report, in three days, from 10 August to 12 August, over 900 people had been treated for acute diarrhoea and vomiting in the twin villages with a population of 4600. There was no history of community eating among any of the people who had reported sick.

Health department has linked the disease outbreak in villages to consumption of this contaminated water. People have been advised to drink water after boiling it. Health officials have also impressed upon population to preserve water sources from contamination and ensure that “no toilet was in the vicinity of water bodies”.

The department has also written to Public Health Engineering department to ensure clean drinking water supply to these villages.

Officials in health department said that contaminated water sources have often been linked to cases of diarrhoea, vomiting, typhoid and other water borne diseases.

As per a report by Integrated Disease Surveillance Program (IDSP) of Union Health Ministry, 74 percent of drinking water samples tested from Kashmir have been found contaminated.

According to National Health Profile 2018, in the year gone by, over 90,000 people in Kashmir have been afflicted with acute diarrhoea that health experts link to WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene). WASH has also been strongly linked to childhood mortality.