primary health cholera drinking water handpump
primary health cholera drinking water handpumpReuters

 A cholera outbreak has claimed seventeen lives and infected several more tribals in Sheopur district of Madhya Pradesh.

Since the cases of the outbreak of the waterborne disease have emerged, the district administration has swung into action in Golipura village of Vijaypur tehsil, about 150 kms away from the district headquarters. In the past two days, officials have been camping at the site of the outbreak. A large number of villagers have also been admitted at the government hospital, Vijaypur.

Cholera is an acute diarrhoea disease that can kill within hours if left untreated. Signs and symptoms prevalent in cholera are — rapid heart rate, acute watery diarrhoea with vomiting, dry mucous membranes, low blood pressure and muscle cramps. Provision of safe water and sanitation is critical to control cholera and other waterborne diseases.

"These deaths have taken place from April onwards. It's not that all 17 died in the last 30 days," Dr R P Saral, Chief medical health officer (CMHO) told TOI.

The CMHO explained that the majority of the Saharia tribals who have low immunity, live in unhygienic and poor conditions. The tribals have a high rate of malnutrition and except one all the tubewells are dysfunctional, said the CMHO. Nearly 55% children in Sheopur are malnourished according to National Family Health Survey (NFHS).

 "For the past one month, villagers have been complaining of vomiting and loose motions. Nearly 17 have died in the last one month," Ramdas, a saharia tribal said.

"Water supply scheme has not started in the village and potable water is a big issue here," Chakrapan, a local said.

Hinting at a lapse on part of the administration, Congress MLA from Vijapur, Ramniwas Rawat said: "Water supply scheme under backward region grant fund has not been fully functional in the whole region where cholera has been reported."