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Mumbai water woes: Seven cases of cholera confirmed in July

Civic body distributing chlorine, ORS tablets.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai | Published: August 4, 2016 12:23:13 am

At least seven cases of cholera have been diagnosed across city slums in July, a first for this year, civic officials said. All the patients were treated immediately and are now stable, they added.

The incidence has sparked a house-to-house survey by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Chlorine and ORS tablets are being distributed in areas where the infected patients live. Two new mobile pumps for chlorination have also been installed in E-Ward’s Madanpura and Saath Rasta, where two cholera cases were detected last month.

According to ward officials, the mobile plant will be used to inject chlorine in drinking water and in reservoirs to kill the vibrio-cholera bacteria.

With seven cases found in different areas of the city — slums of Bombay Development Directorate (BDD) chawl in F South Ward, G South Ward (comprising Elphinstone), Dongri in B ward, Santacruz in H West, and Byculla and Madanpura in E ward — the civic body is looking for leakages in sewage and drinking water line and collecting random samples to test for vibrio-cholera bacteria, known to spread the disease.

While most cases were lone infections reported from different wards, in Madanpura, two siblings from a family living in a slum together tested positive for cholera in the first week of July. They were admitted to Kasturba Hospital. Both have been discharged and are stable, doctors confirmed.

Cholera, often spread by infected drinking water, can cause severe diarrhoea leading to dehydration and even death if left untreated. Most affected patients this year were admitted at Kasturba Hospital for infectious diseases, civic officials said. The victims are under 35 years of age, of which three are children aged three, nine and 10, an official added.

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“There is no change in the disease progression in the past few years. Patients with cholera need to be given at least seven litres of water for rehydration,” said Dr Om Srivastava, infectious diseases expert, who treated three patients at Kasturba Hospital in July.

According to him, while cholera usually affects a number of people within a common locality, the isolated cases this time may have been caused by other factors.

“There is some evidence that the bacteria may be present in the exoskeleton of cockroaches. This may have caused the sporadic cases,” he said.

In E-ward’s Madanpura, for instance, drinking water sample test showed no presence of the vibrio-cholera bacteria, despite the two infections found within a family.

“We have realised there are multiple factors through which the bacteria is spreading. The municipal water supply tested was normal,” an assistant engineer from water works department of the BMC

Civic officials also believe older sewarage lines running across south Mumbai are responsible for frequent leakages and mixing of sewage water with potable water lines. Areas falling under A, B, C D and E wards, which span through the island city, have closely laid down drinking water and sewage water.

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