High incidence of Hepatitis A in two grama panchayats

A study conducted by the district unit of the Integrated Disease Surveillance Project into the reported high incidence of Hepatitis A infection in Thrikovilvattam and Mayyanad grama panchayats on the outskirts of Kollam city found that the disease spread from a common source-contaminated pipeline water supplied by the Kerala Water Authority. Ninety-two persons of Thrikovilvattam and 27 of Mayyanad were diagnosed with the disease last week.

The report submitted by ISDP epidemiologist Rakesh P.S. to District Collector P.G. Thomas, through the District Medical Officer, said laxity on the part of the KWA in preventing contamination of water had resulted in the spread of the epidemic.

Dr. Rakesh told The Hindu that all the 92 persons at Thrikovilvattam and the 27 at Mayyanad had contracted Hepatitis A on the same day. Since Thrikovilvattam and Mayyanad share a common border, the border areas have a common water supply source.

Viral disease

Hepatitis A is a viral disease that primarily spreads through ingestion of contaminated food or water. The disease is closely associated with lack of safe water, inadequate sanitation, and poor personal hygiene.

Dr. Rakesh said water samples collected from the affected areas were tested at the Public Health Laboratory, Thiruvananthapuram.

“Pipeline water is supplied in Kollam district on alternate days. Pipe-bursts at several points along the supply network result in stagnation above the leakage point. When supply is stopped, the stagnated water gets sucked back into the pipeline. Depending upon the area of leakage, the stagnated water gets contaminated and it enters the pipeline through suction,” the ISDP report said.

Though the Collector and the Health authorities had informed the KWA authorities about the need to plug the leakage points, no action seemed to have been taken, said. Dr. Rakesh.

Besides, chlorination of piped water had been stopped in the area since the past two months, the ISDP report said.

THE ISDP has attributed the same reason for the outbreak of gastroenteritis in Clappana grama panchayat. According to the ISDP report, 15 cases were reported from nine houses during the first week of this month. All the houses were in the same street. But for the KWA pipeline water supply, these houses had no other source of drinking water supply, including wells.

The ISDP report said during inspection, it was found that there was a pipe-burst in the area that had not been repaired since the past one month. The water flowing out from the burst remains stagnated above. Water samples collected and tested show that residual chlorine was nil.

The ISDP report suggests measures to create awareness in the affected areas of the need to consume water that is boiled for at least 10 minutes. The KWA should ensure that chlorination is done in a scientific manner and that water is treated before supply.

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