Suspected cholera death reported in Kerala; six others hospitalised

26-year-old Anu, a resident of a residential special school at Vazhuthur, Neyyattinkara, Thiruvananthapuram died due to suspected cholera.

BySouth First Desk

Published Jul 09, 2024 | 11:09 AM Updated Jul 09, 2024 | 4:22 PM

Cholera

One 26-year-old Anu, a resident of a residential special school at Vazhuthur, Neyyattinkara, Thiruvananthapuram died due to suspected cholera on Friday, 5 July.

However, the case came to light only on Monday, 8 July. Anu was a resident of Aryanad and was the son of Anilkumar and Sheela.

According to Anu’s family, on the morning of Friday, they were told that he was having some health issues.

By evening, the hostel informed the relatives that the condition had worsened and he was being shifted to Government General Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram. However, the relatives said that upon reaching there, they found Anu dead.

Marayamuttom police station has also registered a case, and the body has been sent to GMCH Thiruvananthapuram for postmortem.

Apart from the death, six others have been admitted to the hospital, exhibiting symptoms similar to cholera.

Preventive measures

Responding to the possible outbreak, Health Minister Veena George said on Tuesday that preventive measures were intensified in the Neyyattinkara area after some inhabitants of the private care home sought treatment at the hospital with cholera symptoms.

“Initially, the care home residents suspected food poisoning. However, when the disease was reported, the Medical Officer of Perumpazhuthoor Primary Health Centre immediately responded and took necessary measures. Samples, including water, have been sent for examination to identify the source of the disease,” according to a release from the health department.

The health minister has directed that samples from those showing symptoms be sent for testing as soon as possible.

According to sources, the Assistant District Surveillance Officer (ADS), and the health wing of Neyyattinkara Municipality have inspected the hostel, while confirmation of the disease will be received, once the test reports are out.

As a precautionary measure, the residents of the hostel have been asked to vacate the premises.

Some children in a school attached to the institution have also shown cholera symptoms and will receive expert care. Preventive measures have been put in place in the school as well, the release said.

The health department emphasised that awareness is crucial for preventing cholera.

“If symptoms like severe diarrhoea, vomiting, or dehydration occur, immediate medical attention is necessary. Effective antibiotics are available to treat cholera, a highly contagious disease caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae,” it said.

In 2024, Kerala reported nine confirmed cases of cholera. Of this one case was reported in July from Kasargod.

Cholera

Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal disease that can kill within hours if left untreated. It is known as a disease of poverty — affecting people with inadequate access to safe water and basic sanitation.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 13-40 lakh cases of cholera occur across the world every year, with the number of deaths ranging from 21,000 to 1.43 lakh.

It was mostly likely to occur and spread in places that had unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation, and inadequate hygiene.

A person could get cholera by drinking water or eating food contaminated with the cholera bacteria. The disease could spread rapidly in areas with inadequate treatment of sewage and drinking water.

To test for cholera, doctors must take a stool sample or a rectal swab and send it to a laboratory to look for the cholera bacteria.

An extremely serious disease, cholera can cause severe acute watery diarrhoea with severe dehydration.

It takes between 12 hours and 5 days for a person to show symptoms after consuming contaminated food or water. Cholera affects both children and adults and can kill within hours if untreated.

Also Read: Two confirmed cholera cases at BMC girls’ hostel; unhygienic conditions blamed

Symptoms and prevention

The symptoms of cholera include:

  • Diarrhoea (stool appears pale and milky)
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Low blood pressure

There are several ways to prevent cholera. Experts urge people to:

  • Drink clean safe water
  • Filter drinking water
  • Drink boiled and cooled or chlorinated water
  • Wash fruits and vegetables with clean water before eating or cooking
  • Avoid raw vegetables and fruits that cannot be peeled
  • Avoid consumption of cut fruits which are sold uncovered
  • Eat foods that have been thoroughly cooked and covered (and are still hot)
  • Make sure to thoroughly cook seafood, especially shellfish

(Edited by Sumavarsha Kandula with inputs from Dileep V Kumar and PTI)