ANDHRA PRADESH

Pre-monsoon showers raise fears of epidemics

VIJAYAWADA, JUNE 1. The pre-monsoon showers in parts of the district have started giving sleepless nights to residents of some areas, especially the slums. They fear outbreak of epidemics like malaria, gastroenteritis, Japanese encephalitis and viral fever which have become an annual feature, despite extensive preventive measures.

While the District Medical and Health Department claims to have undertaken a number of measures to counter the challenge in addition to stepped-up efforts of the Malaria Department to contain the spread of the epidemic in case of its outbreak, fear continues to haunt the public. "There is a possibility of drinking water getting contaminated during the rainy season, especially in the delta catchment areas. In addition to undertaking a vigorous awareness campaign to educate the public, the department has shifted focus to preventive measures,'' the Additional District Medical and Health Officer, A. Ramprasad, told The Hindu on Tuesday. He said people were asked to boil drinking water and avoid eating stale food. Since June, July and August were the three months when people were exposed to health hazards on account of the rain, a high alert was sounded to medical staff to educate and monitor sanitary conditions in rural pockets. The Rural Water Supply wing has taken up cleaning and chlorination of overhead tanks. People in the western part of Krishna district can heave a sigh of relief as, according to Mr. Ramprasad, no mandal in the region had, so far, been identified as a risk zone. In the East Krishna region, however, the department has decided to concentrate on 13 mandals prone to the epidemic-outbreak. These mandals include Nagayalanka, Konduru, Ghantasala, Challapalli, Mopidevi, Avanigadda and Bantumilli in Machilipatnam division and Nandiwada, Mandavalli, Kaikalur and Kalidindi mandal in Gudivada division. The department would also ensure maintenance of proper sanitation conditions in and around residential areas in addition to distribution of ORS sachets in these areas. The District Malaria Department, on its part, has taken up a house-to-house spray operation. "No case of malaria has been reported from any part of the district. However, in response to a slight increase in fever cases from some areas like Singh Nagar, Payakapuram, Krishna Lanka and Ranigarithota, we have started collecting blood samples of fever patients,'' said the District Malaria Officer, T. Ratna Joseph.

"While the Municipal Corporation is engaged in a mosquito-control exercise, we have undertaken a Mass Suppressive Treatment (MST) programme,'' he added. The department had deployed 20-25 health assistants in rural pockets to prevent outbreak of malaria in Vijayawada.