Concerned over the recent outbreak of cholera in some areas of the state, the government has decided to seek the help of National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (Niced) to develop a vaccine.
At a meeting held on Friday with Niced officials, the state government sought increased involvement of experts to spread awareness about enteric diseases in the districts.
“We are worried because commonly-prescribed drugs are no longer proving to be effective against cholera and other enteric diseases. Bacteria, like vibrio cholerae and salmonella typhis, which cause these diseases, have become resistant to a broad spectrum of antibiotics like norfloxacin, ciprofloxacin, cefotaxime and centamycin. So, talks are on with Niced to develop a new vaccine,” said director of health services Prabhakar Chatterjee.
Health department officials said an antibiotic of the 1960s, tetracycline, is proving to be more effective against cholera and other enteric diseases at present.
“Since doctors don’t prescribe tetracycline — available under brand names of Terramycin and Hostacycline — any more, the sensitivity among the bacteria towards this antibiotic has returned. But, tetracycline has adverse effects on children,” they said.
Cases of gastro-enteritis, including cholera, have been reported from Howrah, Bhatpara in North 24-Parganas, Harishchandrapur and Chanchol in Malda and Bhagabangola in Murshidabad.
Chatterjee said he had already asked health centres and block-level hospitals to launch an intensive awareness campaign on enteric diseases.