South Asia

Rotting bodies raise fear of epidemic outbreak in Nepal

People block traffic and shout slogans against the government as theyprotest the slow pace of aid delivery in Nepal on Wednesday.  

With the local media reporting about the risks posed by dead bodies buried in the rubble and the smell coming from them, a senior public health official dismissed the possibility of health hazard.

“As of now they are no more than public nuisance,” Dr. Baburam Marasini, Director of Epidemiology and Disease Control Division told The Hindu. “Unless, of course, the bodies contaminate any water supply pipe or people come in contact with them without any precaution.”

The director of the division said on Wednesday it was still too early for any sign of epidemic outbreak due to Saturday’s earthquake.

“We are extra cautious about any outbreak and keeping a tab on hospitals to see if there’s any increase in, say, diarrhoea cases,” Dr. Marasini said. “But we should also keep in mind that there is increase in such cases when it rains.”

Dr. Marasini said chlorination of water in the Kathmandu Valley is key between safety and a major health hazard. When asked about the lack of chlorination outside the capital, the doctor said with fewer people living in villages, there was no cause for alarm, unless water sources in villages were contaminated due to waste created by rainfall and landslips.

“We are confident of bringing any epidemic outbreak under control between 24 and 48 hours,” he added.

‘Situation alarming’

However, Dr. Sher Bahadur Pun, Clinical Research Unit Coordinator at the Shukraraj Tropical and Infectious Diseases Hospital at Teku in the capital, termed the situation “alarming given the history of quake-hit areas in other parts of the world.”

“Incubation period for diseases varies and it may be weeks before we realise we have an epidemic outbreak,” Dr. Pun told The Hindu. He cited the example of recent diarrhoea and swine flu outbreak in Jajarkot district where hundreds have been infected and over 30 people dead.

Dr. Pun also said a person staying in one of the tents at Tundikhel, the open space in central Kathmandu “has been admitted to the hospital with diarrhoea complaint.” “This should be a wake-up call,” Dr. Pun said. Local reports have also been citing examples of diarrhoea cases and linking them to the earthquake.

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Printable version | Mar 5, 2021 2:41:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/south-asia/rotting-bodies-raise-fear-of-epidemic-outbreak-in-nepal/article7155684.ece

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