Pigs drink water from a municipality tap in Katras on Monday. Picture by Gautam Dey
Hepatitis-A has reared its head in Katras circle of Dhanbad Municipal Corporation with more than 50 cases being reported in the past fortnight.
Polluted and contaminated drinking water and unhygienic living conditions are being blamed for the spread of the disease that is reaching epidemic proportions.
Expressing concern over seriousness of the situation, in-charge of primary health centre (PHC), Baghmara, Mohammed Jafarullah said examination of blood and urine samples collected over the past fortnight during camps held in various areas confirmed at least 50 Hepatitis-A cases.
While a majority of patients are being treated at Jogta and Baghmara health centres, serious ones are being referred to Patliputra Medical College and Hospital.
“Poor sanitation and consumption of contaminated water are solely responsible for so many people falling ill. In many areas, residents are compelled to depend on the river due to lack of any permanent source of drinking water,” Jafarullah said.
However, he added that they were taking strict measures to prevent further spread of the disease. “Camps were held at Panchgarhi Bazaar in Katras and Chatabad Urban Health Centre on April 4 and April 7, respectively. Another will take place at Makera area of Katras on Wednesday,” Jafarullah said.
The administration has also gone out of its way to spread awareness about the disease. Besides making the people aware of dos and don’ts, over half a dozen multi-purpose workers have been roped in to carry out door-to-door campaigning in different areas of Katras.
This apart, loudspeaker campaigns are also being carried out.
“We are planning to spread the word through local cable TV channels. Pamphlets will be also distributed in different affected areas,” Jafarullah sa-id.
Dhanbad civil surgeon Arun Kumar Sinha reiterated that the health department was taking all possible steps to check further spread of the disease. BCCL was also organising camps in some of its areas.
“As medicines alone cannot cure such viral diseases, we are requesting people to take some steps on their own to minimise chances of being affected. They should drink water after properly filtering it and then boiling it for more than 15 minutes. Those affected with the disease should avoid fried food. We have already written to Mineral Area Development Authority (Mada) to carry cleanliness drives in the affected areas of Katras,” said Sinha.
Councillor of ward No. 1 Vinod Goswami, however, passed the buck on to Mada, saying that water supplied by the civic body from Topchanchi lake was first brought to Tetulmari and stored in drain-like structures, where chances of contamination are maximum.
Managing director of Mada Krishna Kishor denied the allegations, saying the water supplied was completely safe, but admitted that people in many areas were compelled to consume untreated river water.
As for sanitation facilities, Kishor said: “Cleanliness is not the responsibility of Mada alone. The Dhanbad Municipal Corporation also has some duties.”