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Uttarakhand floods: Health Ministry says no fear of disease outbreak

The Health Ministry has moved quickly to quell rumours that there have been disease outbreaks in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand. The Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said in an official statement on Thursday that no outbreak has reported from any part of the state yet.

Three public health teams have been posted to Uttarakhand and eight additional teams have been kept on standby for being sent on short notice. The health minister told reporters here that a team, led by Director General of Health Services Jagdish Prasad, will be reaching the state Friday to consult with the state health officers. He said district units of Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP), of the National Rural Health Mission, is conducting health surveillance in all affected districts.

Asked whether he would be visiting the state, Azad said he didn't want to create a burden on relief operations at this moment. He defended Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi's visit to the state saying political leaders had their own priorities, but it was difficult for all 76 central ministers to visit the state.
Meanwhile, a senior ministry official said that though there have been some diarrhoea cases in Haridwar, Uttarkashi, and Rudraprayag, no outbreak of water-borne, food-borne, air-borne or direct contact diseases has been reported from the affected areas yet. A three-member high-level committee from the ministry is in Dehradun to review the public health situation with the state health authorities, while a specialist from National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme has been placed with the state government for providing assistance.

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Apart from this, the Indian Red Cross Society has deployed a two-member team to Uttarkashi and another team to Pithoragarh. A high-level team also visited the state for assessment and coordinating relief work with the state Red Cross unit. The Red Cross has provided seven truckloads of relief material that includes tents, family packs, kitchen sets, blankets and lanterns.A total of 1,100 bags for carrying dead bodies have been arranged through the Red Cross. An additional 500 bags have also been procured by the health ministry, the official said.

With a large number of people stranded, experts believe the situation could lead to an epidemic because of the all the dead human and animal bodies lying everywhere. With most resources being spent on rescuing people, getting rid of dead bodies is understandably a lesser priority.

Also read:Uttarakhand floods: Understanding the risk of epidemics

With inputs from IANS

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