Panamaram/ Manathavady: Wayanad district has been hit by epidemics after the devastating floods of August, but the response from the health department has been poor.
Jaundice has spread to more areas of Thavinjal panchayat. At Nadavayal, 56 inmates of the Ozanam Bhavan, an old-age home, have been affected by viral fever.
Fears have risen of H1N1 symptoms, though there is no confirmation yet. One case was confirmed in the district last month, and a man is currently under treatment with H1N1 symptoms.
Protests have risen over the health department's lack of attention though some of the patients are critical. The department was informed of the viral fever in Nadavayal, but a medical team from the district hospital is yet to arrive. Some doctors came from the primary health centre at Poothadi, but only several hours after the information was conveyed.
Authorities in the dark
The health authorities have tightened preventive measures after the jaundice outbreak was reported from Thavinjal. However, they are still groping in the dark about the source of the infection. Data available as of Tuesday says 34 people have been infected. The first infections were reported among students of the Wayanad Engineering College in Thalappuzha.
The health department woke up only after 15 students arrived at the district hospital for treatment. Am expert team of doctors then conducted a study at the college.
Water samples taken from wells used by the college canteen and the hostels were sent for tests, as also water used in nearby shops.
The college has been closed until Friday, October 25. The closing could be extended as the disease is seen spreading to other areas too. Jaundice-infected people are visiting the dispensary at Valad and the community health centre at Perya.
Nadavayal: Anger is mounting over the delay on the part of health authorities to respond to the viral fever in Nadavayal. At the Ozanam Bhavan, 56 of the 74 inmates are down with the illness. Most of the inmates are above 60 years of age and seven of them are tribals. There are 28 senior citizens and 22 bed-ridden patients.
Ozanam Bhavan trustee Fr Benny Muthirakkalayil said the authorities have to provide relief to the patients, and should conduct medical camps.
Deputy Collector E P Mercy had visited the place as soon as she was informed. A medical camp wil be held at the Bhavan on Wednesday and the district medical officer is expected.
The viral fever erupted even as Ozanam Bhavan was celebrating secretary Vincent John winning the award for his services for public health. The award was instituted by the Dr P. Narayanan Nair Charitable Trust to encourage those who render selfless service for public health.
Vincent was due to accept the award on Sunday, but viral fever downed him. The winner has been a dedicated public health worker for the poor during the past two decades, and is also an organ donor.
Ozanam Bhavan authorities have no idea as to how the viral fever arose. Several people visit the Bhavan to see patients and offer care. One of them might have been infected and passed the germ to an inmate, it is believed.
Besides, Vincent John had visited patients at the district hospital two days back. It's possible that he could have got infected from there.
Dr R. Renuka, district medical officer, says: “Sale of cold drinks has been temporarily banned in Thavinjal panchayat. Wells and other water sources are under super-chlorination. We are effectively intervening to prevent epidemics. Things are under control. The health department is eternally vigilant.”
Dr Paul, PHC medical officer at Poothady, sai: “We've been able to check the viral fever at Nadavayal Ozanam Bhavan. Five inmates suffering from fever, apart from other diseases, will be shifted to Bathery hospital. We got delayed a bit to reach the Bhavan because we were at a camp in the morning. We had sent a nurse initially, however. There is no reason for panic. We're taking necessary measures.”
Directives from the health department:
Do super-chlorination in all water sources.
Use only chlorinated water for cooking and for washing untensils.
Drink only boiled-and-cooled water.
Keep flies off food items by keeping them covered.
Wash hands with soap before having food and also after defecation.
Fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly.
Do not mix plain plain water in boiled drinking water offered at hotels, bakeries, cool bars and schools.
Maintain personal hygeine and keep surroundings clean.