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Since 1st March, 1999
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Gastro outbreak claims 10 in a week

Durgapur, Oct. 12: At least 10 people, including five children, have died of diarrhoea at Kulti near Asansol over the past week. Over 2,500 have been afflicted with the disease.

Nearly 300 patients have been admitted to the Asansol Subdivisional Hospital and the two hospitals of Eastern Coalfields Ltd and nursing homes in Asansol and Kulti, about 260km from Calcutta.

A large section of patients is being treated at home with the help of three medical camps set up by the Burdwan health authorities.

“There have been 10 diarrhoea deaths in the past one week and over 2,500 cases have been reported. We suspect contaminated drinking water is the reason behind the outbreak,” said Abu Ershad, the district’s chief medical officer.

Of the 2,500, over 1,000 are children.

The public health engineering department, which supplies drinking water in the area, has been asked to inspect the pipeline for possible leaks that may have led to contamination. “Health officials told us contamination of drinking water has led to the outbreak,” district magistrate Manish Jain said after visiting the affected areas. The department has also been told to clean up its overhead tank and pipelines.

Executive engineer Dilip Saha said leaks in the pipeline could have led to the contamination. He insisted, though, that the tank was cleaned regularly. “We are trying to find out whether there is any leakage in the pipes,” said Saha.

Health officials said four wards of Kulti municipality (25 to 28), mostly slum areas, had been affected. Three medical camps with two doctors in each have been set up and 10 doctors from Burdwan Medical College and Hospital went to the area today. A four-member medical team from Eastern Coalfields hospitals is also in the area.

Kulti municipality has launched a door-to-door campaign asking residents to drink boiled water and avoid cut fruits. Residents are also being provided with halogen tablets.

“The municipality doesn’t clean the drains. They overflow and flood the streets. Children are often forced to play on the streets flooded with the drain water,” said Mohammad Sufiyan of Kenduabazar, in ward No. 25. The paan shop owner’s wife Marjina is in a nursing home.

The Asansol Durgapur Development Authority (Adda) has sanctioned Rs 1 crore to the public health engineering department to inspect the pipes and carry out repairs.

“The deaths are worrying,” said Asansol MP Bansagopal Chowdhury, also the Adda chairman.

Murshidabad toll

At Gobarhati village, in Murshidabad’s Kandi, two persons have died in the past 10 days of diarrhoea and over 50 have been afflicted.

“We have asked villagers not to drink water from ponds without boiling and sent teams with halogen tablets and bleaching powder,” said the block medical officer.

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