Fight the Epidemic

Hepatitis-C is reported to be spreading its deadly tentacles in South Kashmir villages. Scores of persons have tested positive in nine villages, and several more areas, it is feared, may get infected in coming days if authorities, who so far have ignored the reports, do not wake up and take necessary precautions. Locals say that they have repeatedly approached officials concerned over the past week, but without results.

Several villagers who tested positive were administered vaccines at the SKIMS to prevent the virus from spreading further, but local health authorities have not visited the areas till date.  Since the rural community is busy with agricultural activity and therefore finds little time to undergo vital health checks and tests, the number of actual cases could be much higher.  The health department needs to launch a massive campaign to keep the infection under control. Besides vaccines, people in such villages need to be educated about the disease and the precautions to be taken to prevent its spread.

Fortunately, Hepatitis-C is not easy to catch. If precautions are taken, it is almost impossible to pass it on. It is spread only through exposure to an infected person’s blood. People need to be told to avoid sharing razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers, or anything else that could have the patient’s blood on it.  They also need to be told to cover any open wounds or sores with bandages.  Tampons, sanitary napkins, tissues, used bandages, and anything else that might have blood on it need to be disposed of properly.  Also, infected persons should not donate blood.  But there is absolutely no need for the patient to live in isolation. People in the affected villages, according to reports, have not so far run out of patience. But their silence should not be construed as resignation. Administrative inaction should not be allowed to turn a manageable situation into a major crisis.