Improper water chlorination behind diarrhoea, hepatitis A outbreak in Kerala

The health department intensifies chlorination activities; efforts to ensure the safety of drinking water.
Representative image
Representative image

KOCHI: Over the past few months, the state has witnessed hepatitis A and diarrhoea outbreaks in several areas. The spread of communicable diseases through contaminated water point to the failure of authorities to chlorinate and ensure the safety of drinking water sources.

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Across April and May, as many as 249 people in Vengoor panchayat and nearby areas contracted hepatitis A. The outbreak, which claimed the lives of two people in the area, was caused by the improper chlorination of drinking water by the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) near Choorathode. In June, around 500 residents of DLF New Town Heights, in Kakkanad, fell ill with diarrhoea following lax chlorination efforts by apartment complex authorities.

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Tests of collected samples confirmed the presence of coliform bacteria.“Local bodies, residents’ associations and the water authority have to ensure the proper chlorination of drinking water sources to eliminate bacteria and other pathogens. The health department has intensified chlorination activities. Water samples are also tested to ensure safety,” an official with the department said.

Waterborne diseases can affect large populations at the same time, especially those that depend on common water sources. “There are several methods employed to prevent water contamination. Among these, chlorination helps prevent future contamination as well,” said Dr Anish T S, associate professor with the community medicine department of Manjeri Government Medical College Hospital, adding that diarrhoea outbreaks indicate supply and use of untreated water.

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“The safety of drinking water must be ensured at places where food and water are served – hotels, auditoriums, etc. Health inspectors and food safety officers ensure that food is prepared and served in hygienic conditions with safe water. At the household level, it’s the responsibility of health workers and officials of local bodies to ensure safety. The public should also be careful and precautions taken at home can help,” Dr Anish said.

“Boiling can help eliminate bacteria and viruses from water. The department should also create awareness about the necessity. Waterborne diseases are not easy to contain,” he added.

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