Amid COVID scare, Bandipora villages hit by 'unusual fever'

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Two villages in this district have been hit by unusual fever and water-borne diseases, raising concerns among locals amid coronavirus pandemic.

For the past several days, rush of people at local hospitals has grown manifold with doctors diagnosing most of the people with fever and gastritis.  On Tuesday, people of Madwan village in Hajin said they were falling ill with high fever.

“Since Tuesday more than 200 patients have fallen sick. People have been complaining of fever and pain in the stomach,” said a local Khalid Rafiq.

A Medical Officer at PHC Madwan, Muzaffar Ahmad said of the 53 people received at the health centre more than 12 were diagnosed with acute gastritis. “Today, more people were diagnosed with same problem,” he said, adding they have recommended for testing the water being supplied to the village.

Two weeks ago, several people from Ajas village were treated at the local health centre with complaints of pain and high fever. The villagers too blamed untreated water supply for the health condition.

According to locals, the village directly gets supply from a rivulet. Muhammad Hassan, a local said, animal carcasses and fecal matter is often seen dumped in the rivulet.

Block Medical Officer, Dr Aijaz said they have asked the authorities concerned to go for testing of water in Ajas too. “There is this issue of fever. We have advised people to go for COVID19 tests, but they are not cooperating,” said Dr Aijaz.

There were also reports that dozens of people were taken ill with fever and flu-like symptoms in Prang village of Hajin. Reports said at least 30 people were treated for flu and other acute symptoms of gastritis.

Another Medical Officer said: “The sickness has spread widely but the casue is yet to be known.”

Locals alleged the PHE authorities were not conducting regular tests of water even at the district headquarters. The water testing lab technicians, according to an insider, have been attached for different official works, leaving the lab defunct.

The district administration has finally woken up to the situation and has started “preparations to curtail any apprehension of an outbreak-like situation.”

An order issued by the administration said it has taken note of “unusual fever” among the villagers. “A trend of unusual fever cases has been reported in Ajas during last 10 days wherein, as per available records, 573 outdoor patients were registered in NTPHC Ajas of which 70 were having fever-related issues and consequently, eight were found WIDAL positive.  Moreover, In Madwan area, a similar trend has also been observed,” reads the report.

It reads water samples tested were declared fit for drinking by Jal Shakti department while people of the villages have also been advised to take necessary precautions including use of boiled water for drinking purpose and personal hygiene.

“However there seems to be an apprehension of the outbreak of disease, as such, necessary measures are required to be taken,” reads the order.

The Block Medical Officer, Hajin, has been asked to immediately deploy Rapid Response Outbreak Management teams to the Ajas and Madwan, who shall take the necessary action as per SOPs in vogue including educating public regarding various precautionary measures.

The teams shall be accompanied by Tehsildar, Naib Tehsildar and officers from Jal Shakti department to ascertain the facts on the ground and submit detailed report and action plan to the administration by Thursday, reads the report. The Jal Shakti department has been asked to ensure chlorination of all water sources immediately while Chief Medical Officer, Bandipora, shall ensure clinical examination of the water samples at designated laboratory, Srinagar, and shall also ensure distribution of chlorine tablets, the order reads.