Srinagar: As flood waters start to recede in Srinagar, the region is faced with yet another challenge-- threat of an epidemic outbreak.
"We are sitting on a time bomb of an imminent epidemic outbreak. The clock is ticking fast and if immediate steps are not taken, a disaster of a much bigger scale could soon engulf the entire Kashmir Valley," warned the Medical Commandant with Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) Dr PM Kabui.
The threat of an epidemic outbreak looms large after the water starts to recede in the city, he said.
Compounding the threat and adding to the miseries of the residents is the fact that the flood has rendered the entire Srinagar Municipal Corporation defunct with most of the areas filled with heaps of garbage.
"People do not have access to clean drinking water and they are forced to drink the contaminated flood water which can give rise to many water-borne diseases like hepatitis, diarrhea and several others," Kabui said.
Touseef Ahmed, a doctor with the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences in Srinagar who been treating patients at a makeshift clinic in Barzulla Bagat, said Kashmiris can suffer from diseases like malaria and dengue in the coming days.
"The stranded water in many areas could become a breeding ground for mosquitoes giving rise to epidemics of malaria and dengue. Previously, these diseases were least known to the people of Kashmir," Said Dr Ahmed.
Health workers in Srinagar say if the carcasses of hundreds and thousands of stray dogs and other animals that perished in the floods are not removed and disposed of properly, they can also cause plague and other such diseases.
"History is witness that an area affected by flood is always vulnerable to deadly diseases like plague.
The government needs to put in place its men and machinery to clean and dispose of these carcasses at the earliest, so that the outbreak of the epidemic can be put under check," Dr Kabui said.
He said "urgent" and "emergency" steps need to be taken before it is too late to check the spread of any kind of epidemic.
The health workers say the priority should be to provide clean and safe drinking water to the stranded people in the city.