In the wake of an outbreak of cholera in Holalu village of Mandya district, the health authorities have stepped up surveillance across the State.

Although no cases have been reported from other districts, Director of Health Geeta Nyamagoudar has said that she has directed all the health officials in the districts to be on an alert and look for cholera symptoms in patients.

“After oral instructions, we have issued a circular asking the doctors to send stool samples for cholera tests if they get any gastroenteritis case. No case has been reported from elsewhere in the State,” she said.

Although one person died and 13 cases tested positive for cholera in Hollalu, the epidemic has been contained, she said pointing out that 155 suspected cases had been reported so far in the village.

“On Sunday, five cases were reported of which only two were admitted in hospital. Their stool samples have been sent for tests. We have sent water samples from the village to confirm contamination and the results are awaited,” she said.

Cholera is an infectious disease that causes severe watery diarrhoea, which can lead to dehydration, and even death if left untreated. It is caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated with a bacterium called Vibrio cholerae.

Bangalore-based gastroenterologists said that it is important for patients to take oral rehydration salts (ORS) as soon as they see symptoms.

“They should not wait for diarrhoea to become severe. The number of times a person passes stools is not important. Some may get dehydrated even with one or two loose stools,” said Naresh Bhat, consultant gastroenterologist at Colombia Asia Hospital, Yeshwanthpur.

He said that it was important for patients to see a doctor immediately after the symptoms are noticed. People should consume boiled water and maintain hygiene, he said.

Parvesh Kumar Jain, gastroenterologist in the State-run Victoria Hospital, said that the disease is most common in places with poor sanitation. He explained that when a person consumed contaminated food or water, the bacteria released a toxin in the intestines that caused severe diarrhoea.

“It is not likely you will catch cholera just from casual contact with an infected person. Transmission occurs primarily by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated by faeces of an infected person, including one with no apparent symptoms,” Dr. Jain said.

K.R. Ravindra, associate professor at Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, said that the city is susceptible to water-borne diseases because of frequent water contamination, especially in the low-lying areas. “There have been no confirmed cholera case reported this year,” he said.

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