Five patients from the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) in Chennai were taken to the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH) on Sunday after they were suspected to have contracted cholera.
Of the five, 2 people have died, though the cause of their death has yet to be confirmed.
“The five people all belonged to the same ward at IMH and showed similar symptoms of dehydration, decreased blood pressure and drowsiness. Their lab investigations showed that all of them had decreased urea and creatinine levels, which are indicative of skewed renal (kidney) functions,” stated an IMH source to TNM.
The first victim was Maan, who had been availing treatment in ward 5, bed 206, who succumbed on Tuesday evening. The second victim was Jeya Gandhi who died on Wednesday.
The other three patients Bharath, Jaya Prakash and Kalaiselvan are still undergoing treatment at the government hospital. Bharath’s condition is said to be critical and he is currently admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) at the hospital.
“All the people who were sick came down with very similar symptoms. It is very likely they have contracted something from the water, but there seems to be denial on the part of health officials,” the source stated.
Dr Poorna Chandrika, director of IMH, stated to TNM that an official press release will be issued shortly, at which time this story will be updated.
However responding to the allegations, Director of Public Health (DPH) Dr K Kolandasamy stated that while 5 people were admitted, there has not yet been any confirmation of cholera.
“The death of one of the patients was due to sepsis, the cause of which we are still yet to determine and another patient is in ICU. All the investigations are being done and we will do all necessary tests. As of now, water samples from the IMH have been taken for testing. We will update once we get all the details,” he said to TNM.
Cholera is a disease caused by the organism Vibrio cholerae which spreads through contaminated water. A person infected with the organism will show a number of symptoms. The most commonly seen symptoms are loose stools with a foul-smelling odour, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure and other signs of dehydration. Treatment for cholera is dependent on rehydrating the individual and administering antibiotics. Supportive medications may also be given as needed to control any symptoms. Zinc supplements may also be given to aid in the recovery.
It spreads rapidly and can cause death from the resulting dehydration if not treated. While it has yet to be determined whether it is indeed cholera that the patients at the IMH have contracted, water samples from the institute have been sent for further testing.
Utilisation of clean water as well as taking personal hygiene measures such as handwashing can go a long way in preventing cholera. Food should also be prepared well and all vegetables should be washed and cleaned.