Panic gripped Orissa’s Kalahandi district after three diarrhoea patients were found carrying cholera virus, although the State government claimed that the situation was “under control.”

Diarrhoea has so far claimed 26 lives in the past 20 days, official sources said.

Three persons identified as Dipak Majhi, Lalchi Majhi and Surendra Majhi, all tribals of Burda area in Kalahandi, were found carrying vivrio cholerae bacteria yesterday, a senior official said.

Family Welfare Minister Prasanna Acharya, who visited the affected villages, claimed that the situation was improving due to timely intervention by the health department. He described the detection of cholera as an “isolated” case.