Panic gripped the industrial town of Panipat on Tuesday after at least five people were suspected to have died of diarrhoea and over 100 residents of a workers' colony fell ill during the past 48 hours.
Reports said that Ayub and Rekha (both one-year-old), Satish (8) and Ajay and Sunil (both 15) died after suffering diarrhoea.
The outbreak has raised a question mark over the functioning of the district administration amid speculations that unhygienic conditions prevailed all over the residential colonies or leaking pipes were contributing to the spread of the disease.
Panipat district authorities said that health teams were deputed in the affected Batra Colony, located on Assandh road in the city.
The affected locality is largely inhabited by migrant workers engaged in unorganised handloom units and various other vocations.
Deputy civil surgeon Shashi Garg, who is camping in the colony to oversee the situation, told HT on Tuesday that cases of suspected diarrhoea deaths were brought to the notice of the department.
"But we are gathering the facts to ascertain whether the deaths were actually caused by diarrhoea. In fact, health teams have started a major preventive and awareness programme in the area. At present, the situation is under control and no fresh case is reported from the colony on Tuesday," she said. Meanwhile, sources in the district health department said that most of the affected patients were taking treatment from registered medical practitioners (RMPs) and started approaching the district hospitals on Monday only after their health condition started deteriorating.
Garg said that a total of ten patients with acute sickness were admitted to Bhim Sain Sachhar Civil Hospital on Monday and their health was now improving.
She said that none of the residents of Batra Colony had shown any life threatening medical condition.
Blaming the poor living and hygienic conditions behind the outbreak, Garg said that water samples had been taken for further action.
"Residents were found using water from hand pump which prima facie is dirty. Even the water supply lines of public health engineering department seem to be polluted by cracked underground sewer lines," she said.
Garg said that door-to-door survey was being conducted to detect patients so that they could be given medicines and ORS packets.
Pamphlets, chlorine tablets and ORS packets were distributed among the residents of the affected areas. Besides, public announcements were also made in this regard. Teams of the health department also educated the public about diarrhoea, its symptoms and preventive measures, she said.