Outbreak of epidemic feared in flood-hit Kashmir

With the water level receding in river Jhelum, the threat of outbreak of epidemic in Kashmir is increasing as there is massive shortage of medicines and vaccines in the flood affected areas of the Valley.

Srinagar: With the water level receding in river Jhelum, the threat of outbreak of epidemic in Kashmir is increasing as there is massive shortage of medicines and vaccines in the flood affected areas of the Valley.

"We only have basic drugs available at this camp. There are no chlorine tablets or vaccines required for protection against water-borne diseases available with us," Mudassir Ahmad Bhat, who is operating a medical camp at Barzulla on Airport road told.

The situation is no different at the medical camps being operated by army at Hyderpora and Rambagh.

"Most of the people are asking for chlorine tablets as water coming through taps is contaminated but right now we do not have enough stock," an official at Hyderpora camp said.

Water level in river Jhelum has receded by several feet in the past two days but many areas of the Srinagar city are still under flood water, which has increased the threat of outbreak of epidemic.

Hundreds of animal carcasses are floating in residential areas which are still several feet of water.

Doctors say there is urgent need of vaccines to protect the people, especially children under the age of 12 years, against water-borne diseases.

"Vaccines are urgently needed especially for the children. There have been many cases of children suffering from upset stomach over the past couple of days," Dr Reyaz Ahmad, a pediatrician, said.

Shahid Bhat, who is working as a volunteer, said he visited several private hospitals and and medical camps in search of vaccines in view of rising cases of gastro- enterological problems.

"All the hospitals said they did not have the vaccines due to lack of electricity. A vaccine needs to be refrigerated or it will get destroyed," Bhat said.

He said he has sent out messages to his friends, who wanted to help, across the country and abroad to send vaccines and chlorine tablets on priority to prevent outbreak of epidemic.  

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