It was only after 52 residents of Fatehgarh Sialba village in SAS Nagar district took seriously ill due to water-borne diarrhoea that health authorities woke up to the need to repair a broken sewage pipeline, which had led to the contamination of drinking water in the village.
In the last about a week, about 150 diarrhoea patients have been examined at the village primary health care centre. Of these, 35 have been admitted while 17 - comprising mainly children and elderly - have been referred to the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research and Government Multi-Speciality Hospital, Sector 16, Chandigarh.
The village dispensary does not have enough infrastructure to tackle the heavy rush of patients. To accommodate patients, who have been put on drip, 'charpais' have been borrowed from the villagers.
"We just have a doctor and a pharmacist in the dispensary. In view of the increasing number of patients, staff have been called in from nearby hospitals. In the last one week, we have examined about 150 persons, of which 35 have been admitted to the dispensary," said Usha Bansal, civil surgeon, SAS Nagar.
There are about 17 patients, mainly children and elderly, whose condition was serious and thus referred to Chandigarh, she added.
About the reasons behind the outbreak of diarrhoea, Bansal said, "Underground sewerage pipe had burst, which led to the contamination of water in underground pipeline through seepage."
On June 15, the health authorities had collected water samples from the area and as per the report, the water was unfit for drinking. The village sarpanch was directed to take necessary action, but nothing was done, which resulted in the diarrhoea outbreak.
"We had taken samples of the overhead water tank and various houses. The water being supplied to houses through underground pipelines was found unfit for consumption while the water the overhead tank did not test of impurities," added Bansal.
"The pipelines have been repaired and we have again written to the sarpanch for necessary action. The situation is under control. The patients were also tested for cholera, but the results were negative," said Bansal.