Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Typhoid cases in Hyderabad city: Bad water, street food get the blame

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Typhoid cases refuse to subside even after the monsoon in twin cities. They 
are only increasing by the day and doctors blame the spurt in typhoid fevers on the 
ever-deteriorating water supply in Hyderabad and its suburbs. Typhoid is an intestinal or 
enteric disease spread through the faeco-oral route. It is caused by a bacterium called 
Salmonella Typhi, which lives in contaminated water and food.

Hundreds of people have been suffering from typhoid fevers in twin cities. But strangely 
enough the State government does not have updated data as most of the hospitals and 
private clinics do not report about the typhoid cases treated by them. Every typhoid case 
has to be informed to the State government as the typhoid fever, like other enteric 
fevers, falls under the Notifiable Diseases Act. Other infectious diseases like cholera, 
polio, Hantavirus, bird flu and swine flu also fall under the “notifiable diseases”.

Hyderabad district health and medical officer Dr G Srinivasulu admits that the city has 
been witnessing a number of typhoid cases, but argues that the “situation is not 
alarming”. Generally, monsoon records higher incidence of typhoid cases but this time, 
the problem persists even post-monsoon. Though typhoid can be treated by antibiotics, 
doctors warn that Salmonella Typhi is gradually becoming resistance to a number of 

Doctors say once Salmonella Typhi enters the body through contaminated water or food, the 
bacteria multiply and spread into the bloodstream. The body reacts with fever and other 
signs and symptoms including intestinal bleeding, perforation in the intestine, hepatitis 
and bronchitis, and even multi-organ infection.

“Earlier, we used to treat typhoid with quinolone class of antibiotics including 
ciprofloxacin. Now the medicines do not work. It is also turning resistant slowly to the 
powerful cephalosporin class of antibiotics. Typhoid can be prevented quite easily by 
simple steps like washing hands, boiling drinking water and covering food items,” says Dr 
Aftab Ahmed, specialist in internal medicine, Apollo Hospitals.

The doctors’ blame on poor quality of drinking water supplied through municipal taps is 
not without a scientific backing. A study by the Regional Centre for Urban and 
Environmental Studies, Osmania University, showed that 40 per cent of water samples 
collected in twin cities tested positive for bacterial contamination. “Over last couple 
of years there appears to be deterioration in the water supply system in Hyderabad city”, 
the OU report pointed out.

Analysis of water samples by the Institute of Preventive Medicine revealed that about 14 
per cent of samples in the last six months failed the bacteriological test.

Fact Box

* Drink BIS-certified bottled water or bring tap water to a rolling boil for one minute 
before you drink it. Soda (carbonated water) from a reputed company is also safe.

* Make sure the ice mixed in juices and other drinks is made from safe water. When you 
are not sure, avoid ice. Also, avoid flavoured ice cubes.

* Always cover the foods. Eat them when they are hot.

* Wash vegetables and fruits before you eat or prepare salads. Extra care should be taken 
with green leafy vegetables.

* Wash hands before touching food.

* Avoid street food and that served in unhygienic surroundings.

No comments: