Two children have died, while over 1,000 are suffering from severe diarrhoea and vomiting as cases of gastroenteritis (gastro) are increasing in different parts of Battagram District, sources told The Express Tribune on Monday.
Local health authorities have confirmed the death of two children from Habib Banda village due to the disease. However, they claim that mobile teams have been sent to affected areas to treat approximately 700 patients suffering from dehydration, while the remaining 300 people are undergoing treatment.
Six patients, including two children were admitted to District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital Battagram, while one patient was referred to Ayub Medical Complex in critical condition, they said.
According to sources, the disease broke out in Surkheli village four days ago, affecting 110 villagers, most of whom were women and children. According to the health department, these villagers were suffering from dehydration. The disease then broke out in adjoining villages, including Habib Banda, Dheri Banda and some other small localities, affecting over 900 patients.
Battagram Health Executive District Officer (EDO) Dr Aqeel Bangash confirmed the death of two children from gastroenteritis in Habib Banda village but claimed that the situation in Surkheli village was under control and all patients suffering from dehydration had been treated. Likewise, over 50 patients in Habib Banda village have been given required treatment, he added.
“However, since Dheri Banda village is situated in the outskirts, the situation could be different from other villages and the cases of gastro are feared to be more than other areas,” he explained.
Responding to a question, Bangash said the main reason behind the spread of the virus was due to contaminated water. According to an analysis by the National Institute of Health Islamabad, the water being consumed by people contained human and animal waste due to leakages in the water supply lines, which played a major role in the development of gastro.
However, he assured that the mobile teams, each comprising of four doctors, paramedical staff and a representative of the World Health Organisation, were providing chlorinated tablets to the residents of affected areas.
The EDO also requested people to use boiled water, and to avoid using domestic medications for treatment. “There is no shortage of medicines as some non-governmental organizations are supporting the health department. People are advised to contact the mobile teams if they feel the onset of nausea, vomiting or high fever,” he remarked.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2011.