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Water contamination ‘likely cause’ of fever outbreak in Haryana village

Most of the children had shown similar symptoms -- high fever, rash, vomiting, low platelet count – and died within three-four days of reporting a fever.

At Chilli village: officials found leak in a pipeline of drinking water, suspect contamination. (Express Photo: Pavneet Singh Chadha)

A PRELIMINARY investigation into the deaths of seven children in the last three weeks in Chilli village, over 20 km from Palwal, has indicated that the “probable cause of the outbreak could be the unhygienic conditions and illegal drinking water pipe connections that led to contamination of drinking water,” the Haryana government said on Wednesday.

Most of the children had shown similar symptoms — high fever, rash, vomiting, low platelet count – and died within three-four days of reporting a fever.

Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Rajeev Arora said the outbreak started on September 9. “The rapid response team visited the affected areas on September 12, and a household survey was done wherever deaths were reported,” he said.

“Officials found a leakage in the drinking water pipeline, and public health officials have been instructed to repair it at the earliest. A temporary medical camp has been set up in the area and cases are being treated symptomatically and referred as per the severity,” he said.

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“The final cause of deaths can only be commented upon after completion of epidemiological investigation, but prima facie, the probable cause of the outbreak could be the unhygienic conditions and illegal drinking water pipe connections that led to contamination of drinking water. Some deaths may be due to pneumonia and gastroenteritis,” said Arora.

“The situation is under control. We are keeping a strict vigil,” he said. “House-to-house active search for fever cases is being done by the health teams… All anti-larvae activities like fogging, checking water bodies etc. are being carried out in the affected area,” he said.

Meanwhile, two more children, aged 6 years and six months, reported high fever on Wednesday, and were rushed to the Palwal district hospital, taking the total number of children admitted at the hospital to five.

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“Both the children admitted on Wednesday are stable. Since it is viral fever, we have isolated them and are providing treatment. In the last four days, the number of viral fever cases in the village has come down from 64 to 12. The situation has improved,” Dr Brahmdeep Sandhu, chief medical officer (CMO), Palwal, said.

“We have set up a five-bed mini hospital ward – with IV drip, oxygen cylinders, concentrators — in a panchayat room for emergency. An ambulance has been parked in the village. Our teams are conducting a house-to-house survey and collecting samples to check for malaria, dengue, Covid and other vector borne diseases. Our teams have distributed masks and mosquito nets in houses as a precaution,” said Dr Sandhu.

“At least 350 rapid diagnostic tests for malaria have reported negative. We conducted 350 rapid antigen tests for Covid in the village and all have reported negative. Four samples to check for dengue have been collected – the reports are awaited. So far, we have not found dengue larvae in the samples collected,” he said.

First published on: 16-09-2021 at 03:43:16 am
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