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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Latest survey by BMC reveals that water in ALL wards of the city is unfit for drinking

and that's causing a sharp spike in jaundice, typhoid and hepatitis A and E

Last week this newspaper carried a front page report about the discoloured stinking water that Juhu residents, including this man to your right, Hrithik Roshan, were getting in their taps. It now emerges that not just Juhu, water in all the 24 wards across the city is unfit for drinking. How do we know? A survey conducted by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation itself in December has revealed that of the 1,324 samples it collected from across the city, 421 clearly spelled health hazards (see box on page 8). The worst hit was posh south Mumbai where the underground sewage and water pipes are the oldest leading to wide scale corrosion and the water getting mixed with the sewage. Though BMC routinely carries out water surveys this is the first time that water contamination has been reported from all over the city without exception. 

    The biggest culprit is the E.Coli bacteria, short for Escherichia coli present in the water which can cause severe cramps and diarrhoea. Doctors from all over the city are also reporting a sharp spurt in waterrelated illnesses ranging from diarrhoea, Hepatitis A and E, typhoid and jaundice cases. 
    Last month, the civic body received 397 water contamination complaints-283 from South Mumbai, 29 from eastern suburbs and 85 from the western suburbs. "It is unusual to get so many cases in winter. I am treating patients from Walkeshwar, Marine Drive and Khetwadi areas. People should be more cautious while drinking water. The BMC should also realise that people are falling sick due to water contamination," said Dr Snehal Sanghavi who practises at Bhatia, Harkisondas and Saifee hospitals. Especially worrying, the doctor pointed out were the cases of typhoid and 
jaundice. "The fever pattern is quite unusual. Patients are not responding to normal drugs and need long treatment," said another doctor Sanjay Godbole who practices at Girgaum. 
    Pankaj Shah, a resident of Shikka Nagar in Khetwadi, has been suffering from Hepatitis E and says at least twenty of his relatives have reported sick with hepatitis or typhoid. "Initially, I was admitted to Saifee Hospital for vomiting and high fever. I was discharged after a week 
but as soon as I came home I again started vomiting. Then, I was admitted to Bhatia Hospital. Doctors asked me not to drink BMC water. I've been buying bottled water every day," he said. Dinesh Bhansal a resident of Charni Road too was discharged from Bhatia Hospital on Friday after being treated for jaundice. Around 50 people in his locality have been diagnosed with jaundice. 
    A senior official of the BMC said increased digging activity for various BMC, MMRDA and MSRDC projects and work of private utilities was damaging British-era water pipelines, while BMC Health Executive Officer Dr GT Ambe added: "We get pure water from the lakes but if there is leakage in the sewage lines the water gets contaminated. Also, in housing societies, people do not change pipelines for years, water storage tanks too are not cleaned which affects the quality of water. Due to shortage of water, people also drink tanker water, and these are some of the reasons for people falling ill," he said. 


E. coli is short for Escherichia coli – a bacteria (germ) that causes severe cramps and diarrhoea. E. coli is the leading cause of blood diarrhoea. The symptoms are worse in children and older people, and especially in those who have other illnesses. 
Seven days after you are infected with the germ, the first sign is severe abdominal cramps that start suddenly. After a few hours, watery diarrhoea starts. It causes your body to lose fluids and electrolytes (dehydration). This makes you feel sick and tired.The watery diarrhoea lasts for about a day. Then it changes to bright red bloody stools. 
    The infection causes sores in your intestines, so the stools become bloody. This state lasts for two to five days. You may have 10 or more bowel movements a day. Some stools are all blood and no stool. 
"E coli causes diarrhoea and bacterial 
dysentery. If water has this type of bacteria, it is infected, and any infected water causes harm to the stomach.We have seen several people suffering from E. coli infection. People should boil water for 15-20 minutes before drinking.You may have a mild fever or no fever. You may also have nausea or vomiting. If you have any of these symptoms – watery, bloody diarrhoea, cramps, fever, nausea or vomiting – go to your doctor right away," said Dr Amit Maydeo, gastroenterologist, Jaslok Hospital

Pankaj Shah, a resident of Shikka Nagar, Khetwadi

Microscopic view of Escherichia coli


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