Following death of five children due to suspected outbreak of diphtheria here in the past one week, the Haryana health authorities have sounded an alert to control the bacterial disease.
The deaths have been reported from the urban slum areas - Davar Colony and Ashok Vihar - located adjacent to Kutani road.
Panipat chief medical officer Dr SP Gupta told the Hindustan Times on Wednesday that the situation was quite serious and the authorities had taken appropriate steps.
He said: "More than 500 children have been medicated in these colonies and special isolation wards have been set up at Bhim Sain Sachhar Civil Hospital for those who are ill."
On Tuesday, nine children were referred to a New Delhi hospital for further treatment.
All those who died were reportedly below five years of age and the chief medical officer said medical teams were camping in the areas to handle emergency situations.
"So far five deaths have been reported from these two areas since August 30. No death has been reported in the past two days. Though samples of 24 patients have been sent to a national laboratory in New Delhi for the confirmation of diphtheria, prima facie all patients, including those who died, were suffering from diphtheria and we are treating them accordingly," the chief medical officer said.
He said reports would reach the town in next two or three days.
The health officials admitted that the outbreak confirmed that the victims were not administered DPT vaccinations.
A visit to the areas revealed the sorry state of hygiene.
Hundreds of workers engaged in various handloom and other units of the industrial area were residing in these illegal colonies which lack any provision of sewer and drains.
The district officials said residents were migrant workers and a large population residing here frequently moved to and from Panipat in search of unskilled jobs.
Meanwhile, deputy commissioner Mona Sriniwas directed the health and sanitation authorities to remove filth and drain water accumulated all over the area.
Sriniwas said the chief minister had been approached to grant financial assistance to those who died of the disease.