One person has died and at least 150 people have been affected in an enteric outbreak in Howrah Municipal Corporation (HMC) areas over the past five days. The victims have been admitted to Howrah General Hospital, where the condition of at least 15 people was stated to be critical.
Sources in the HMC said water contamination is suspected as the main cause of the infection. “HMC engineers and public health engineering (PHE) officials are trying to analyse the actual cause of the disease,” said a civic spokesperson.
The authorities say most of the victims came from four wards — 30, 31, 36 and 37. Already, 137 cases of gastro-enteritis have been recorded in the areas. Initially, two dozen people fell ill on October 17, but the figure rose to 150 in the next three days. “We have collected water samples from taps and hand-pumps in the four wards. The test report is expected soon. We are also looking into the contamination angle,” said a PHE official on Tuesday.
HMC officials added that a leak in the water pipeline could have led to the outbreak. Engineers are examining the entire stretch of the pipeline in the four wards.
The authorities, meanwhile, have stopped supplying water to the four wards. “For the moment, water tankers are being sent to the affected areas. We are appealing to the residents to store drinking water from the tankers, and not draw it from the hand-pumps,” said an official.
Doctors are camping in the area and the HMC authorities, too, have set up a clinic to attend to those who need preliminary treatment.