With three people dead and over 100 in Abbottabad and Mansehra having reported symptoms characteristic of gastroenteritis, the health authorities are refusing that it is an outbreak.
According to officials of the Women and Children Hospital, Benazir Shaheed Hospital, Ayub Medical Complex Abbottabad and King Abdullah Teaching Hospital Mansehra, over 100 patients have come in during the last two weeks with vomiting, severe abdominal pain and dysentery.
They said that during the last three days the number of gastro patients have increased in hospitals in Abbottabad, where over dozen are currently hospitalised. They said that people of all ages, including women and children have fallen victim to the disease.
The officials said that outbreak of gastro was first reported in a remote village of Havelian tehsil, where a girl died of the disease and around a dozen others approached the local health centre with symptoms characteristic of the disease. The officials said that the health authorities of Abbottabad sent medical teams to the village, which treated the sick, educated locals about preventive measures for gastro, and urged them to consume boiled water.
However, soon after, a more pronounced outbreak was reported in Battal, Mansehra district, where three minor children died and over three dozen locals were shifted to hospitals in Mansehra with diarrhoea and vomiting, the officials added.
However, when contacted, the Executive District Officer (EDOs) Health Mansehra and Abbottabad, Major (retd) Dr Sidique Rehman and Dr Zafeer respectively, denied that there is an outbreak of gastroenteritis in the two districts. They said that though dozens of people have fallen sick and gastro is common during the months of July and August, the cause of people’s illness is not gastroenteritis.
The EDOs said that the situation is being monitored, adding that apart from their own monitoring of diseases, the World Health Organisation’s Disease Early Warning System is also operational in all the districts, where reported diseases are monitored every day.
They assured that according to reports from the disease monitoring centres, there is no outbreak of gastro in the two districts.
They said that if an outbreak is reported, the health departments are well equipped and prepared to cope with the situation.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2012.