Sunday, 10 May 2009

Cholera in Hyderabad: It's official failure

2009
Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, May 10: Twelve deaths and about 600 cases of hospitalisation.
And yet Andhra Pradesh State government officials do not know what caused the havoc.

A week after death stared at poor residents of Bholakpur in the State
capital, officials continue to fight over the causative agent. Preliminary
laboratory reports here indicate cholera, but health authorities still
await a reconfirmation by the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric
Diseases, Kolkata, to swing into action. For them, it's still the mild and
less harmful gastroenteritis.

As officials attempt to take shelter behind technicalities on the
causative bacteria to hide their inefficiency and lethargy, 70 more new
cases of diarrhoea and vomiting were reported from different parts of
the city on Sunday. Two more persons succumbed to the disease
taking the death roll to 12.

Cholera is caused by the bacteria Vibrio cholerae while gastroenteritis
is caused by Escheresia coli, which is relatively less harmful.
Whenever cases of diarrhoea and vomiting break out in largescale,
officials take shelter behind E coli to escape the wrath of people, while
actually some or all the cases are of Vibrio cholerae. Since the
symptoms in both the cases are almost similar, officials often side with
gastoenteritis to save their skin.

As many as 40 samples collected from various parts of the State
including 24 from Hyderabad have tested positive for cholera. Had
officials acted immediately the tragedy could have been minimised, if
not averted, feel Bholakpur residents. It will take another week for the
NICED to give its report and untill then there will be no cholera cases,
officially. A team from NICED is arriving on Sunday to study the
samples.

That officials still believe there's no cholera in the city can be summed
up from what Principal Secretary (Health) Dr LV Subrahmanyam says:
"it is premature to point fingers at the existence of cholera bacteria
when the confirmatory test reports are awaited from National Institute
of Cholera and Enteric Diseases".

He, however, agreed that 12 cases were identified at Fever Hospital and
four at Gandhi Hospital and they were awaiting reconfirmation from
Kolkata. "All these patients have been discharged after providing the
required treatment at the respective hospitals and taking their contact
address. The test results are expected soon," Dr Subrahmanyam said.

Fever Hospital Superintendent Dr P Prasad sides with Dr
Subrahmanyam when he said cases of cholera were quite common
round the year. "Though vibrio cholera bacteria was identified in the
preliminary tests for 12 cases this month, there were around 10 cases
identified last month and during summer almost every week around
three cholera cases are identified."

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