DMK has called for mass agitation over rapid spread of the disease in the city

The announcement of a mass agitation by DMK seeking immediate action by the Chennai Corporation to control diarrhoea and cholera in the city has caused considerable unease among officials. Over the past few days, Corporation health department officials went into an overdrive to dig out data on cholera and diarrhoea during the previous regime.

To counter former deputy chief minister M.K. Stalin, the civic body on Tuesday claimed that high incidence of cholera was not new to the city. Mayor Saidai S. Duraisamy said the number of cholera cases touched a high of 1,495 in 1999 while there were 3,072 diarrhoea cases during the same period.

The number touched a low in 2006 with 59 cholera cases, as reported by Communicable Diseases Hospital.

The civic body is studying the reasons for the low number of cases in 2006 to find clues to the disease and prepare to tackle an outbreak in the city.

According to data released by the civic body, there were 797 cholera cases in 1995. This jumped to 931 in 1996, 1,434 in 1997, 1,025 in 1998, and 1,495 in 1999. In 2000, there were 1,224 cases, 1,115 in 2001, 1,173 in 2002, 290 in 2003, 968 in 2004, and 393 in 2005.

By 2006, the numbers dropped to 59 but went up to 1,102 in 2010. In 2011, there were 113 cases as reported by CDH, Tondiarpet.

President of Indian Public Health Association (Tamil Nadu), Dr. S. Elango, said the civic body should ensure that case fatality rate is low. However, 90 per cent of cases could be avoided by ensuring hygiene, he said.

Civic body can play a role in solving only 10 per cent of the problem. “When a lower percentage of the infected people die, it is an indication of good action by civic authorities,” said Dr. Elango.

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