Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, June 12:
With the Nabakalebara festival of the Lords knocking at the doors, a report of the Directorate of Public Health (DPH) indicating presence of the dreaded Hepatitis (jaundice) virus in water samples drawn from some areas of the holy town of Puri has sent shivers down the spine of the Odisha government, which is racing against time to finish preparations for the mega religious festival.
In order to make drinking water contamination-free in the holy city of Puri before the Nabakalebara festival, the DPH has begun testing water samples.
A three-member team of the DPH is camping at Puri and has begun testing of water samples from the start of this month. The team comprises an analyst, water sample collector and a data collector. The team is testing water samples drawn from shallow tube wells, tube wells, hotels and private houses.
Sources in the DPH said water samples drawn from four wards of the city have been found to be contaminated. Presence of hepatitis virus has been found in water samples drawn from ward no. 20, 16, 21 and 1, the sources added. The findings have taken the sleep out of the DPH.
The DPH has ordered the sealing of tube wells found to be having contaminated water. Further it has directed cross marking of private tube wells found to be having contaminated water. Testing of water samples will continue for coming two months, DPH sources said.
A team from the Department of Bacteriology & Pathology, SCB Medical College Campus, Cuttack is testing rectal swabs of diarrhoea patients visiting district headquarters hospital at Puri, the sources added.
Curiously, district health officers are unwilling to accept the findings of the public health directorate’s report.
Puri ADMO (PH) Amarendra Mohanty said that he hasn’t received any reports this month of water samples of the city found to be contaminated. A month and a half ago, 17-18 cases of jaundice were detected in four wards. Samples collected from these wards were sent to Cuttack for serum test where Hepatitis E viruses were found.
Mohanty said necessary steps were taken to plug the source of water contamination adding that water samples drawn from these four wards were found not to be contaminated.
Two different reports have put the Health department in a tricky situation. However, unwilling to take any chances, it has asked officials to pull up their socks to prevent the possible outbreak of the water-borne disease during the Nabakalebara.