There has been a sharp rise in the number of patients with Hepatitis E Virus (HEV) in Halishahar and parts of Agrabad areas of the port city.
The number was 369 on Thursday and it became 624 the next day, Azizur Rahman Siddique, civil surgeon of Chittagong, said, based on information from different hospitals.
Talking to The Daily Star, several locals, however, said the number of people infected by HEV, that spreads through water and food, would be higher.
Azizur said he asked all public and private hospitals, and pathological centres in Chittagong, to send information on suspected Hepatitis E patients they treated since May 1 to the civil surgeon office.
Meanwhile, 26 people have been infected by HEV in a seven-storey building in Madhyam Halishahar area, said sources at the civil service office.
Locals say the virus could be spreading through the water supplied by Wasa. However, AKM Fazlullah, managing director of Chittagong Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (CWASA), denies the allegation.
“If CWASA water was contaminated by HEV, people residing in 80 percent areas of the city would have been affected,” he said a couple of days ago.
Fazlullah said they regularly check the pipeline of CWASA for leakage, but “no such incident” was observed so far in the areas.
Agrabad and Halishahar areas regularly go under water during high tide, and so the underground water tanks of the houses may be contaminated with tidal water, said Azizur.
Tidal water is contaminated in many ways, including with industrial effluents and human waste, he said.
Yesterday, Azizur said drinking boiled water was not enough to prevent HEV infections.
“If people do not use safe water while washing hands and brushing teeth, they can be infected,” he said. “I urge everyone in the area to add purifying tablets to water before using them”.
Hepatitis E is a virus that infects the liver, causing it to swell up. The symptoms of the infection include jaundice, mild fever, fatigue, decreased appetite, nausea and vomiting.