20 cases of leptospirosis reported from region
More than two weeks after a near-outbreak of leptospirosis was reported from Thiruvallam near here, the area continues to be on tenterhooks. Though no fresh cases have been reported at the primary health centre (PHC) there, the ban on swimming and usage of water from the Karamana river that flows through the region has thrown up new dilemmas for the public.
The unbridled pollution of the river had led to the reporting of about 20 cases of leptospirosis from the region, all of them in children aged below 15 years, leading to the PHC officials to put up banners and posters prohibiting the people from using the river for any purpose.
According to N. Latha, doctor-in-charge of the PHC, no new cases have been reported and the PHC was sending field staff on a daily door-to-door inspection and continuing with the awareness programme that was initiated two weeks back.
The water in the river, meanwhile, she said, had turned black and was stinking now, that itself being a deterrent to the people who might chose to ignore the posters, which warned the people of consequences including leptospirosis and jaundice.
The plans to deposit sacks of bleaching solution near the main bathing ghat had to be put on hold for fear of harming the fish and other aquatic life in the river. Those that managed to survive the impact of the pollution, that is.
However, the situation was now turning worse for the public, with the Karamana river being the main source of water for their daily household needs. The stagnant waters in parts of the river were now breeding havens for mosquitoes at a time when the number of dengue cases was on the rise. The ‘bali rituals’ at the Parasurama temple there too had been hit, according to Gireesh, a daily wage labourer for whom the river was his regular bathing spot.
With the drought that was intensifying by the day and regular water supply too being hit, the common man in the region was at his wit’s end, he said.
Meanwhile, the main way out of the misery suggested by officials – a total cleanup of the river through a Rs.500 crore project - still depended on the pace at which a RITES team completed its ongoing survey, after which a project report would be prepared for the cleaning and restoration project for the river.
The team was likely to submit its report by the end of June only at the current rate of progress. Water Resources Department officials said a meeting would be convened in the first week of May to discuss speeding up the process.