The cholera panic seems to have hit the city this monsoon. Since July 1, 38 people have been admitted to the isolation ward at Kasturba Hospital for Infectious Diseases for suspected cholera, including two men who were admitted on Monday.
But so far, only one patient — a 35-year-old woman from a Colaba slum — tested positive for a ‘mild’ form of cholera.
But does it mean it is time to panic?
No, say public health experts, though they have cautioned people to be alert. “Every year, around 80 to100 people are treated for suspected cholera. On an average, we get between five to 10 confirmed cases,” said Dr Jairaj Thanekar, BMC’s executive health officer. “This year, there has been one which is not uncommon.”
Dr F.D. Dastur, infectious disease expert, Hinduja Hospital, said: “In the past 10 years, I haven’t heard of a cholera outbreak, though stray cases come up every year.”
However, he added, there would be a cause for concern if many cases are reported from the same area.
Dr Sujit Bhattacharya, senior official of World Health Organisation, said there are various parameters to declare an epidemic. “Out of a 100 suspected cases, minimum 10 should test positive and the total number of suspected cases should be thrice the number of cases reported from that area in past three years,” he said.
He added: “A culture test must come positive for cholera to be confirmed,” adding that a screening test like hanging drop is not enough.
Even though the hanging drop test might have come positive for suspected cases in Mumbai, it doesn’t mean there is an outbreak of cholera.