Typhoid spreads evoking fear of bad water system

Along with dengue and viral fever, typhoid is spreading fast in different parts of the capital while the city's government and private hospitals are witnessing an increase of typhoid-affected patients. Physicians suspect the water supplied by the Dhaka Water and Sewerage Authority (Wasa) has been contaminated and this might be a key cause behind the spread of the intestinal disease. Sometimes dirty sewer water leaks into water pipelines that leads to an outbreak of typhoid, they said.

Officials of the Microbiology department of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) said 60 of the 436 diagnosed patients at DMCH were reported to be typhoid patients. The department that conducted a survey from June 15 to July 25 saw an increase of patients during the time.

A survey by the Microbiology department of Dhaka Shishu Hospital identified 110 typhoid patients until July 27. Children are more vulnerable to typhoid, as they are usually fond of roadside unhygienic and stale foods that contain typhoid bacteria.

Following high fever and severe headache, five-year-old Sumaiya Ashfaq of Kalyanpur was admitted to Dhaka Shishu Hospital two weeks ago. "As her fever kept on increasing, we got her blood tested and found her suffering from typhoid," said Sumaiya's mother.

Typhoid is no longer a precarious disease as there are advanced medical procedures, Head of the Department of Medicine of DMCH Prof AKM Rafique Uddin said. "Proper medical treatment and precautions can easily combat the disease that is mainly spread by unhygienic water and stale food teemed with bacteria," he added.

FM Siddique, professor of medicine of DMCH, said among the virus affected patients currently seeking admission to different hospitals and clinics, 10 per cent are diagnosed with typhoid while about 80 per cent are found suffering from normal viral fever. "It usually takes around seven to ten days to be fully cured once the disease is identified," Prof Siddique said.

He advised people to boil water for at least half an hour to kill typhoid germs. It may require further diagnosis to spot the typhoid germs in the initial stage as it often remains undetected in the first blood test, experts said. "Normal fever may take turn towards typhoid, as sometimes it cannot be detected at the primary stage," said a physician of the Children's Ward of DMCH.

Typhoid occurrence is more frequent during June to August although it may spread in other times too. Bacterium Salmonella Typhie, which is the main carrier of typhoid, is multiplied and spread into the bloodstream of the infected person through food or water. The body reacts with fever and other symptoms like headache, vomiting, skin rash once the bacteria are inside.

Typhoid is usually transmitted from human to human through food or drinking water, and it is mainly hygiene and sanitary conditions that determine its spread. Source: The Daily Star, 01 August, 2006

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