Health scare in high-end Kochi apartment; E-coli suspected as 300 residents report vomiting, diarrhoea

Health department officials said they suspect Ecoli contamination of drinking water has led to the outbreak, which affected nearly all the 1,000 flats in the compound.
Sources told TNIE that contamination of the drinking water is being suspected as the main reason behind the outbreak.
Sources told TNIE that contamination of the drinking water is being suspected as the main reason behind the outbreak.

KOCHI: Over 300 residents, including 25 children, of a 15-tower residential building at Kakkanad, Kochi, reported vomiting and diarrhoea on Tuesday in a suspected case of E-coli contamination in drinking water.

Health department officials said they suspect E-coli ( a bacteria found in the intestines) contamination of drinking water has led to the outbreak . According to the residents, nearly all the 1,000 flats in the compound have been affected.

Speaking to TNIE, C C Viju, the Kakkanad councillor, said, "The contamination of the drinking water is being suspected as the main reason behind the outbreak. However, a clear idea will be received only after the test results of the samples collected by the health department are received."

According to him, the DLF flats have only one KWA (Kerala Water Authority) connection while the remaining towers are supplied water through tankers.

"They also have borewell. The residents have been using all these sources of water. It is suspected that the water in the borewell might have been contaminated," he added.

He said that the health authorities and the people's representatives had arrived at the apartment complex to take stock of the situation.

Nikitha Joy, a resident who works at Infopark said, "I have been suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea since yesterday. It is being said that the infection is due to E-coli bacteria."

According to her, steps like cleaning and disinfection of the water tanks are being undertaken by the authorities. "We have been told that a team of doctors and health workers will arrive to do a health check-up and prescribe medicines," she added.

According to the councillor, the summer drought followed by the sudden influx of water due to the rain might have led to the contamination of the water in the borewell. "But as to what had happened can be understood only after an investigation is carried out," he added.

Meanwhile, Dr Sakina, the district medical officer said, "As to whether it is an E-coli or some other bacterial infection, a clear picture can be arrived at only after the test results of the multiple samples that we have collected are received. We are looking into whether there is a presence of other microbes in the water." It has, however, been confirmed that this is a water-borne infection, she added.

According to her, the initial reports that it is an E-coli contamination were arrived at by the residents themselves. "They had collected some samples and got it tested in a private lab," she added. According to her, it will take somewhere between 48 to 72 hours to test the presence of all sorts of microbes. "Only after receiving the results can we arrive at the cause."

Health minister Veena George says strong action will be taken

Calling the outbreak of diarrhea and vomiting among the residents of DLF flats in Kakkanad a serious matter, the Health Minister Veena George said that strong action will be taken.

She said action will be taken as per the Public Health Protection Act.

"Yesterday, a resident of the apartment complex called me directly on the phone and informed about situation. The director of the health department was immediately called and instructed to intervene. A special team of the health department reached the spot and took further action," she said.

"All sources of drinking water in the flat will be checked. This matter may not have been noticed by the health department because the affected persons sought treatment in many hospitals. That is also being investigated. Awareness will be strengthened in the area," the minister added. The minister also requested the residents to drink only boiled water.

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