Business Standard

Cholera outbreak comes knocking to Bengaluru amidst acute water shortage

The city reported one confirmed case and two suspected cases of cholera from the same locality


The US Centers for Disease Control estimates that 1.3-4 mn people globally suffer from cholera each year and 21K to 143K people succumb to the disease | Photo: Shutterstock

Sohini DasShine Jacob Mumbai/Chennai

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(This report has been updated)

Amid acute water shortage in the city, Bengaluru is now grappling with the outbreak of severe stomach ailments, including few cases of cholera. One confirmed case of cholera has been reported in the Malleshwaram area, with samples from two other suspected cases living in the same locality have been sent for testing.

The city civic body is yet to declare a cholera outbreak. But it has issued advisory on things to do and things to avoid, as stomach ailments are on the rise.

cholera is an acute, diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with the toxigenic bacterium Vibrio cholera. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 1.3 to 4 million people around the world suffer from cholera each year and 21,000 to 143,000 people succumb to it.

Doctors in the city said that they are witnessing a significant surge in patients reporting with severe stomach ailments (including gastroenteritis) in the past few weeks. Some of the cases have tested positive for cholera, they said.

Meanwhile, Chief Commissioner of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike Tushar Giri Nath told Business Standard that there is one confirmed case of cholera in Malleshwaram area. “In a PG in Malleshwaram, one case has been cholera positive and others are sent for tests. We are identifying the source of contamination and all. There is no outbreak. We are taking all precautionary measures and will soon come out with an advisory,” he said.

The state health department is on high alert to avoid any such situation, according to reports. Sreehari D, consultant medical gastroenterologist at Sparsh Hospital, Bengaluru said, “We have seen more than 20 cases in the past few weeks.”

He said multiple factors could be contributing to this rise. “Poor sanitation and contaminated water sources are the main reasons for this surge. Overcrowded living conditions and limited access to water and improper hygiene can aggravate the spread of the disease,” Shreehari said.

Dr Brunda, consultant - internal medicine, Aster CMI Hospital, Bengaluru told Business Standard that the hospital is receiving at least four to five cases of severe stomach ailments every day. “During this season (onset of summers) this is common. These could be bacterial or viral infections. We are taking appropriate steps depending on the condition of the patient,” she said, adding that one of the patient samples sent for testing for cholera has turned out positive.

She added that stool routine and culture testing is usually done to confirm cholera. There is also a test called the ‘Hanging drop test’ which is performed on the stool to measure the level of mobility of organisms such as bacteria in the stool.

Doctors prescribe that it is crucial to take immediate precautions to keep the situation from spiralling. “Firstly, ensure that drinking water is adequately treated or boiled before consumption. One should follow hygiene practices like handwashing with soap and water, particularly before meals or cooking, and refrain from eating undercooked food and opt for cooked dishes instead.

Encouraging waste disposal is crucial to avoid contaminating water sources. Additionally, prompt medical attention should be sought if anyone displays symptoms, like diarrhoea, vomiting or dehydration,” Shreehari cautioned.

In March 2020, Bengaluru experienced a cholera outbreak, with nearly 20 confirmed cases and several cases exhibiting symptoms similar to cholera reported. Contamination of drinking water is a major reason behind cholera. As the city is reeling under a water crisis, doctors estimate that access to safe drinking water might have been compromised for several eateries.

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First Published: Apr 03 2024 | 9:07 PM IST

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