| Kol Basti in Bagbera is a mucky picture of neglect on Friday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
A mysterious outbreak has claimed two lives and left 15 seriously ill at Kol Basti in the Harharguttu area of Bagbera, 15km from city, in the past 48 hours.
While Mangal Ichaguttu (40) and Pappu Sardar (32) died after severe diarrhoea-like symptoms, theories behind the affliction range from the viral disease and endemic malaria to food poisoning.
East Singhbhum civil surgeon Jagat Bhusan Prasad, who left for Ranchi on Friday morning to attend a health department meeting, rushed a team from Jugsalai primary health centre (PHC) and asked district malaria officer L.B.P. Singh to send another squad for malaria tests.
Jugsalai PHC in-charge Bharti Minz, who led a four-member team to the locality inhabited by some 15,000 tribals, said 55 people were found to be suffering from various forms of illnesses and medicines had been distributed accordingly.
The deceased were contract workers. Most people in this one-acre neighbourhood are in the same profession. They had gone to Barbil in Keonjhar district of Odisha, along with 15 others, for work. We suspect food poisoning, Minz said, ruling out cerebral malaria or diarrhoea as the cause of deaths.
Apart from the group that went to Barbil, no one is showing symptoms of loose motion, nausea, abdominal cramps and fever. This corroborates food poisoning. We dont think there has been any case of cerebral malaria or diarrhoea. We expect test reports tomorrow (Saturday), the health official added.
District malaria officer Singh said rapid diagnostic kits had been sent to test blood samples in Kol Basti. So far, we have checked samples of 50 people and only two malaria positive cases have been detected, he added.
Bagbera Mahanagar Vikas Samiti convener Subodh Jha, however, blamed contaminated water and hinted at a diarrhoea outbreak. Until a few days ago, Jusco tankers brought us drinking water. However, the supply was stopped from Independence Day for reasons not known. Water from tube wells in monsoon is not fit for drinking. We suspect an outbreak of diarrhoea because most of us are dependent on dirty lakes and tube wells, he reasoned.
Mukhiya of Harharguttu Bharat Joda said he had sent an SOS to deputy commissioner Himani Pande and the district civil surgeon for spraying larvicides and bleaching powder to prevent malaria and other monsoon maladies.