Three patients have been diagnosed with cholera, while hundreds of others are suffering from gastroenteritis in different parts of Mansehra district. These reports emerged from a pathological analysis carried out at the National Institute of Health (NIH), Islamabad, health officials told The Express Tribune here on Wednesday.
Following the outbreak of gastroenteritis in parts of Mansehra, local health authorities had sent samples from some of the patients to NIH for analysis. Three patients — all of them adults belonging to Shahkehl Garhi, Dara and Sheikh Abad villages — were found to be infected with vibrio cholerae, a bacterium that causes cholera, according to official sources. Cholera is an infection of the small intestine and primarily induces watery diarrhoea and vomiting, symptoms that overlap with gastroenteritis, a disease which is comparatively easier to treat.
Dr Niaz Muhammad, Medical Superintendent King Abdullah Hospital, confirmed that three patients had been diagnosed with cholera. However, he said, all three have been treated and have recovered.
Responding to a question on the outbreak of gastroenteritis in the district, he replied that it was reported in the first week of July and, since then, his health facility alone is receiving 200 to 250 patients daily. He added that a good majority of women and children, who have a comparatively weaker immune system, are always vulnerable to bacteria.
The hospital, which serves 1.7 million people in Mansehra, treated more than 4,000 patients of gastroenteritis, according to Dr Niaz. Not a single death has been reported so far.
Dr Niaz blamed the Tehsil Municipal Administration and civic authorities for not ensuring supply of safe drinking water to the end consumer and open sale of uncooked and unhygienic food items like kebabs, pakoras, chaat and other food items, which are sought, particularly during Ramazan.
He said people should avoid taking such food items and use boiled water. In the neighbouring district of Battagram, gastroenteritis has so far claimed two lives with more than 1,000 others gastroenteritis patients registered in Surkheli, Habib Banda and Dheri Banda villages last week.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2011.