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129 confirmed cholera cases in city but no outbreak: health officialsConceding that 129 lab-confirmed cholera cases have so far been reported in Karachi during the last four months, the provincial health authorities remarked that although hundreds of thousands of diarrhoea cases were reported in the city in the last two months, it did not prove the cholera outbreak.

“With 56 lab-confirmed cholera cases reported so far this month from South and Central districts of Karachi, 129 confirmed cases of cholera have been reported by six public and private hospitals in Karachi. Mostly children under the age of five were found infected with Vibrio cholerae, the bacterium which causes cholera in the humans,” Dr Asif Saeed, an official of the Sindh health department.According to World Health Organisation (WHO), cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with Vibrio cholera, and if not treated timely, acute watery diarrhoea can lead to severe dehydration and death.

The Sindh health department official, who is responsible for the surveillance of infectious diseases and outbreaks in the province, claimed that not a single death had been reported anywhere in the city due to cholera. Sharing details of the cholera cases in Karachi, he said that five lab-confirmed cholera cases were reported in January 2022, followed by 14 in February, 54 in March and 56 in the current month till April 25.

“These 129 cases have been reported from the Aga Khan University Hospital, Liaquat National Hospital, Indus Hospital, Civil Hospital Karachi, Ziauddin Hospitals in North Nazimabad and Keamari, and Kharadar General Hospital,” the official said, adding that they were contacting other health facilities in Karachi to get their data of lab-confirmed cases of cholera.Sindh Health Director General Dr Jumman Bahoto told media that although cholera cases were being reported by different public and private hospitals in the city, their number was not enough to conclude that there was outbreak of cholera. He added that cholera was now an endemic disease in Pakistan.

“Hundreds of thousands of diarrhoea cases have been reported during last two months and cholera cases were not more than two to three per cent of the total diarrhoea cases,” he said adding that they had sent the samples of cholera patients to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Islamabad, which confirmed through gene sequencing that it was the Ogawa strain of the bacteria. He maintained that actions were being taken to strengthen the surveillance system for cholera and other water borne disease in the city and as well as the rest of the province and the health education wing had been told to start awareness sessions in high-risk areas.

“The Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, and water and sanitation departments in other cities of Sindh have been requested to ensure the supply of safe drinking water,” the health DG said as he urged the people to consume water after boiling, wash hands regularly and approach a health facility in case of diarrhoea.