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Times of India
01 June 2010
By Julie Mariappan
Chennai, India

1 DEAD, 790 CASES IN LAST 7 DAYS Diarrhoea spreads across city
Cyclone Laila did not batter the city, but the rains that came with it have triggered a significant rise in cases of acute diarrhoeal disorders (ADD) across the city. At least 790 persons, including 160 from mofussil areas, have been admitted to the Chennai Corporation–run Communicable Diseases Hospital (CDH) in Tondiarpet in the last seven days and one death has been reported.

“ADD is rearing its ugly head. A resident of Meersahibpet, who was referred from the Royapettah Government Hospital to CDH, died before admission at 2.30am on Tuesday last,” a senior official told TOI. The hospital is seeing a steady inflow of patients, sources claimed, with the number of admissions ranging between 63 and 154 a day. “Cases are being reported from across the city, including high–end residential colonies in south Chennai,” he added.

The cases started trickling in since May 23, days after Laila moved closer to the city’s coastline. But Sunday last was the worst, with a record number of people with ADD symptoms thronging CDH. The records show at least 133 cases were from the city (a majority from Chintadripet) and another 21 from mofussil areas in Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts. Private hospitals also reported a large number of ADD cases in the last few days.

Acute diarrhoea is usually caused by bacteria or virus, resulting in cramps, abdominal pain, bloating, nausea and frequent need to use the toilet. Doctors have advised people to avoid having unsafe water or food.

Unsafe drinking water appears to be the prime cause of acute diarrhoeal disease being reported from across the city. Corporation staff who went on field visits have found ‘nil’ residual chlorine in drinking water supplied by Metrowater through public taps at several places.

Mixing of sewage with drinking water is also being reported in many areas which have seen a rise in diarrhoeal diseases. Water contamination is nothing new to North Chennai, especially in zones like Tondiarpet, Basin Bridge and Pulianthope, comprising areas like Washermenpet, Korukkupet, Royapuram, Kasimedu, Choolai, Otteri and parts of Ayanavaram. Overflowing manholes on arterial roads like Tiruvottiyur High Road, Decaster Road, Perambur High Road (South).

Water lines laid several decades ago easily give way to sewage during low–pressure. “It has been reported to several higher–ups in Metrowater since 2008, but to our dismay, none has come forward to clear the sewer manholes in Jamalia till date. If we don’t fill water before 8am, we end up getting polluted water,” says Umapathy, a resident of Jamalia in Perambur. State Bank Officers Colony, Hyder Garden and Krishnadoss Road continue to receive contaminated water.

But what surprises the officials is that cases are being reported from comparatively safer places like Arumbakkam, Shenoy Nagar in Kilpauk, Pudupet in Nungambakkam and Ambedkar Nagar in Velachery. At least 28 cases were reported from Ashoka Nagar and Ponnuvel Thottam in Arumbakkam, 20 from Pudupet and more than 100 from Chindadripet, Muthiah Thottam, Balaji Nagar and Jawahar Hussain 1–5 streets in Ice House zone during last week. “Metrowater was informed about the lapse in the system. However, tanker water supply is not resumed in all areas,” an official said.

According to CMWSSB sources, the agency had taken steps to disconnect water supply, wherever cases of contamination were reported. “We ensure residual chlorine (RC) round 7 and 8ppm at the distribution station itself (minimum RC should be 0.2ppm), so that the end user gets the adequate RC. The corporation said it has distributed 4–5 lakh chlorine tablets to the affected households and conducted medical camps in the areas. ”

Watch What You Eat
 Diarrhoea up, nil chlorine makes tap water unsafe
What is acute diarrhoeal disorder (ADD)?
People with diarrhoea may pass watery stools more than four times a day. Though most diarrhoea episodes would require only oral fluid replacements and mild diet, some may need medical intervention

Causes:
Bacterial, viral or parasitic infection

Symptoms:
Fever, cramps, abdominal pain, nausea, frequent discharge of stool, which could be bloody

Prevention tips:
Don’t use unsafe water | Avoid raw fruits and vegetables | Avoid raw or half–cooked meat, fish | Don’t eat food from street vendors

Incidence:
In the last one week Chennai saw 460 cases of ADD

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