Shopian, Feb 3: The Hepatitis-A outbreak has set off a wave of concern in several villages of south Kashmir’s Shopian district after five samples tested for the highly contagious liver infection turned out to be positive on Friday.
A senior health official, who declined to be quoted by his name, said that five serology samples taken from Pahnoo village were found positive.
“Additionally, seven water samples have also been found contaminated,” the official said.
He said that Coliform bacteria were found in the samples.
“The bacteria do not cause illness, but its presence indicates that the water is unsafe and disease-causing pathogens could be present in it,” the official said.
He said that most of the pathogens contaminating water come from human or animal excreta.
On January 30, Greater Kashmir reported a jaundice outbreak from the village, spurring the administration to send medical teams to the area and take water and serology samples from the residents.
Apart from Pahnoo, the medical teams had screened people in Trenz and Woterpora villages.
“We have taken at least 30 water samples and some reports are still awaited,” the official said.
Following the positive reports, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Shopian issued an advisory, asking people to consume boiled water and avoid open defecation to prevent contamination of water bodies.
Deputy Commissioner, Shopian, Faz Lul Haseeb also convened a meeting of concerned officials for assessing water quality and taking remedial measures to improve the water quality.
However, the residents from Pahnoo and other affected areas said that the area was provided with unfiltered water.
“We are consuming contaminated water directly supplied from streams, which results in such life-threatening diseases,” a resident said.
The locals said that over a dozen children had taken ill in Pahnoo and other areas, causing panic among them.
The district is becoming a concerning hotspot of the Hepatitis-A in the absence of safe drinking water.
Over the last few years, hundreds of Hepatitis-A cases have been reported from the district.
Last year, in the first five months, a total of 506 samples were tested for Hepatitis-A, and of them, 92 turned out to be positive.