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Gastro grip tightens hepatitis hazard hold

Waterborne diseases have created pockets of peril in north and east Calcutta over the past 10 days.

If the hepatitis spiral in South Dum Dum Municipality assuming alarming proportions was not bad enough, a large number of gastro-enteritis cases has been reported from Tiljala, Beleghata, Narkeldanga, Phoolbagan and the adjoining areas.

As many as 187 patients were admitted to Beleghata Infectious Diseases Hospital over the past 24 hours with symptoms of severe dehydration, vomiting and stomach upset, hospital officials said on Friday. An extra ward, with 30 beds, had to be opened after 180 beds in the two regular wards were overrun.

“The rate of discharge is almost the same as the rate of admission,” said Narayan Pandit, acting superintendent of the hospital. “The average time for a patient’s recovery is about 36 hours, but there is no dearth of doctors or medicines, ” he added.

Health experts described both the “hepatitis outbreak”, which has afflicted over 500 residents in eight localities of South Dum Dum, and the gastro-enteritis cases as alarming.

Measures are being taken to provide safe drinking water in the affected areas. “But the tankers being sent by the CMDA are not adequate. The tremendous heat and humidity are forcing people to drink the contaminated water,” cried a resident of Barmanpara, under South Dum Dum Municipality jurisdiction.

On Friday, the All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health confirmed that the piped water samples given for tests by the South Dum Dum Municipality contained “faecal contamination” and was “unfit for human consumption”.

Institute director Ananth Narayanan said: “The choliform content was high, as potable water was getting mixed with water from the sewerage lines… We have told the municipal authorities how the water has to be treated. They will have to take help from the public health engineering department to check the supply lines and chlorinate the impure water.”

Hepatologist Abhijit Choudhury of SSKM Hospital, who has been deputed by the state health department to help tackle the healthcare scare in South Dum Dum Municipality, visited the affected areas for the second day on Friday. Describing the incidence as “large,” he said it would take “another four or five days to bring things under complete control”.

Chief secretary Asok Gupta held a meeting late on Thursday at the CMDA headquarters, where he discussed the crisis with officials. It was decided that additional tankers would be deployed to the affected areas and urgent steps would be taken to purify the piped water supply.

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