Bengaluru: Improper disposal of garbage major reason for spike in diarrhoea cases

Doctors are blaming prolonged food storage, consumption of contaminated fluids, sewage leaks, improper garbage disposal, and soil contamination for the health hazard.
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The death of six people, including a 13-year-old girl, and the hospitalisation of over 100 people after consuming contaminated water during a weeklong temple fair in Madhugiri village in Tumkuru district recently has raised health concerns. Several attendees started experiencing acute diarrhoea on June 10, a day after the fair started and were admitted to the Madhugiri Taluk Hospital and Tumkuru District Hospital. Three senior citizens succumbed to their symptoms in the following days. The 13-year-old girl and two other senior citizens died at a private hospital in Madhugiri town on June 12th. 

Speaking to the media, Dr Sreenivas, taluk health officer, stated that laboratory tests of water samples from the overhead tank revealed water contamination and that it was unfit for consumption. The affair is one of many instances of water contamination across the state. 

Last month, one person was suspected to have died, and many others were taken ill after ingesting contaminated water in K Salundi village located in Mysuru, the home district of Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. The Chief Minister had directed the Deputy Commissioner and the District Health officer to identify the cause of the contamination and take appropriate action. 

Bengaluru saw a 40 per cent rise in viral infection cases suspected to be cholera in April this year, as reported by government and private hospitals. Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar had directed Bengaluru water supply and municipal authorities to promptly test and fix the quality of potable water in the city in May.

Speaking to ANI on June 15, Opposition leader R Ashoka held the state government responsible for the recent deaths due to water contamination and demanded an explanation from CM Siddaramaiah.

Improper disposal of garbage causing water contamination

Dr Asha Benakappa, Head of the Paediatrician Department at Chandramma Dayananda Sagar Institute of Medical Education and Research (CDSIMER) in Bengaluru, identified five main reasons for the acute diarrhoea spike: contaminated fluids, prolonged food storage, sewage leaks, improper garbage disposal, and soil contamination. "Diarrhoea is spread through contaminated water," she said, adding that improper disposal of garbage is a major reason for contamination of water bodies. 

On her commute to work through Kanakpura Road, she sees vehicles stop and throw garbage into the river. Improper disposal of menstrual products, pesticides, faeces and fertilisers contaminates the water and soil, leading to more health issues, said Dr Asha. 

According to The Hindu, doctors in Bengaluru have also observed an increase in gastrointestinal infections (acute diarrhoeal disease) and viral infections among children. They noted that the number of infections shot up by 20 per cent in the last month. The increase in the number of cases can be due to unpredictable monsoon patterns and the higher circulation of foodborne viruses. 

Talking to TNM, Dr Chikkaranasa Reddy, professor of paediatrics at Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI), said that in the last week, cases of vomiting have increased, possibly due to the sudden weather changes and lack of personal hygiene. 

He said the rise in cases of viral infection among children is because they are easily transmitted through air, “​​School-going children will spread it to other children.” he said. There is also reemergence in dengue cases because of increased rainfall and stagnant water in parts of the city, he said.

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