On Monday, six more children were admitted with complaints of diarrhoea and dehydration to the paediatric ward of Government Kilpauk Hospital, bringing the total number admitted to 11. There are 10 male and five female patients in the medical wards. At the Communicable Diseases Hospital in Tondiarpet, there are currently over 50 patients, with 22 in the male ward. According to sources, so far 140 people in the city have been treated for acute diarrhoea.
Doctors at KMC said that one patient, whose condition was critical, was put on dialysis on Sunday. “When patients come with acute diarrhoea and dehydration, we start intravenous fluids and antibiotics and do not wait for test results,” said a doctor treating patients in the medical ward.
Asserting that clinical findings along with hanging drop test of faeces is the internationally accepted confirmatory test for cholera, doctors at KMC said that motility under microscope indicates presence of vibrio cholerae bacteria. “We cannot wait for blood culture results as they would take 48 hours to arrive. The more the delay the more lethal it is for the patients,” said hospital dean P. Ramakrishnan. At least three of the patients at the hospital had very high levels of creatinine indicating that they are highly dehydrated and were at risk of renal failure.
Doctors added that since the patients would already be on antibiotics, the culture tests may turn negative even for diarrhoeal diseases.
Residents in Pullapuram, Ossankulam and Bhoopathy Nagar in Chetpet live in constant fear. Though large quantities of bleaching powder have been dumped around hand pumps and entrance to houses, flies abound. On Monday, Corporation officials sat in a tent near Ossankulam colony and distributed tablets. Posters in Tamil, at the entrance to every apartment, urge people to heat water and eat hot fresh food.
“The water [from hand pump] smells of medicine but we do not use it for drinking. We buy water cans though they are expensive. I cook food late in the morning so that children eat hot food,” said R. Manimekalai, whose mother-in-law is recovering from fever at a private hospital.
Women spend most of the mornings filling huge drums with water as their homes do not have piped water supply though they have separate bathrooms and toilets. Those living on the upper floors of the Slum Clearance Board apartments in Ossankulam have installed small motors and tubes to transport water to drums in their homes. Pullamal, the 60-year-old woman who died of diarrhoea, lived in one of the apartments.
The buildings have the mandatory 10-feet space behind them but owners of independent houses have encroached upon the open area by extending their buildings. “Once in a while, Corporation employees collect the garbage that accumulates behind the buildings and dump it into Kilpauk Medical College’s (KMC) nursing hostel campus. Boys from the apartments jump over the walls and set fire to the garbage every week to clear the mound and prevent insects from entering our homes,” said V. Vijayalakshmi, a resident.
Keywords: diarrhoea complaints