Staff Reporter

Two dead, 308 hospitalised

Chlorination of water bodies begins

KOTTAYAM: There has been an increase in the number of jaundice cases being reported from the district. According to District Medical Officer Benjamin George, there were two deaths in the last one month due to jaundice.

Anupama, 21, a diabetes patient from Changanassery, died of jaundice on June 30. The second death was reported from Aarpookara, considered the epicentre of the outbreak. Anoop Mathew, 24, and 25 others contracted jaundice after attending a marriage party. He died at a private hospital in Kochi on Monday. Around 300 people have been admitted to government hospitals in the district due to jaundice. But the actual number affected will be much more as patients who depend on private health dispensation system have not been accounted for.

According to Health Department authorities, jaundice cases were being reported since February. But the extended summer has led to a sudden spurt in the number of cases being reported.

The three gram panchayats — Aarpookara, Athirampuzha and Aymanom — surrounding Kottayam Medical College have reported large number of cases compared to other panchayats. These panchayats are part of water-logged low lying areas and are ideal for such contagious diseases to spread.

In 2005, more 1,200 cases of jaundice were reported from the district. After a public outcry, the authorities decided to improve the waste management system at the Kottayam Medical College Hospital. The health situation improved, and the number of jaundice cases came down by half in the next year.

The present outbreak, centred around Aarpookara panchayat may point to the need for increased vigil. According to Health Department officials, they have started chlorination of the local water bodies used by the people. Water samples are being collected from areas where jaundice was reported.