The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Europe ailments bug Bengal
- Spurt in ulcerative colitis, Crone’s disease worries doctors

4Sneha Gupta, 52, had been suffering from “bloody diarrhoea”, anaemia and weight loss for a decade. Doctors diagnosed piles and put her on steroids, till she was referred to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, where she was detected with ulcerative colitis, an auto-immune disease.

4Arup Das, 24, was suffering from diarrhoea and acute weight loss. He travelled to Vellore for treatment, but to little avail. He was finally detected with the rare Crone’s disease.

Two diseases common in Europe have invaded Calcutta with a vengeance. Rise in cases of ulcerative colitis and Crone’s disease, which results in ulcers in the intestine before attacking other parts, have emerged as “serious problems”, warn city-based gastro-enterologists. If afflicted with either, the body “fails to recognise its own proteins”. Many doctors, going by pathological reports, are putting the cases down as chronic amoebiosis and piles. The symptoms of ulcerative colitis and Crone’s disease are somewhat similar — patients suffer from diarrhoea, weight loss and abdominal pain. But in cases of ulcerative colitis, patients experience “bloody diarrhoea”.

Ulcerative colitis, the more frequent and dangerous of the disease duo, spreads rapidly to the entire colon, causing inflammation of the eyes and drying up of the bile duct, even jaundice, followed by severe pain in the joints and spine. If left undiagnosed and untreated for over 10 years, it leads to cancer, doctors say.

In the past year, Medical College, SSKM, NRS, AMRI Apollo hospitals and Kothari Medical Centre have treated over 250 cases of ulcerative colitis and Crone’s disease. “The numbers have risen dramatically. Both are mainly caused by a shift in diet, high intake of fats and dependence on food like corn flakes,” says Gautam Chatterji, head of department (surgical gastro-enterology), Medical College.

Kothari Medical Centre even flew in Kironmoy Das, an expert in inflammatory bowel diseases from New Jersey, to address the problem. “The diseases have taken menacing shape and we are trying to get more information about latest medical advancement,” gastro-enterologist K.N. Jalan said on Thursday.

Medical College has also initiated research into these diseases with assistance from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, under the University of Birmingham. “The exact reasons for these diseases are largely unknown and a lot of research is now underway,” said gastro-enterologist Mahesh Goenka.

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