Fight the Epidemic

Hepatitis C is reported to be spreading its deadly tentacles in South Kashmir, where scores of persons are said to have tested positive in nine villages, and several more areas are feared to be at risk of infection if authorities who, so far, have ignored the threat, do not wake up and take necessary precautions. Locals complain of their repeated pleas before officials concerned having borne no results.

Several villagers testing positive have been administered vaccines at the SKIMS to prevent the virus from spreading further, but health authorities at the local level have not visited their areas till date.  Since the rural community is busy with agricultural activity and therefore finds little time to undergo vital health checks, the number of actual cases could be much higher.  The health department needs to launch a massive campaign to keep the infection under control with vaccination, and measures like educating people in vulnerable zones about the disease and the precautions necessary to prevent its spread.

Fortunately, Hepatitis C is not easy to catch. If precautions are taken, it is almost impossible to pass the disease on as it spreads only through contact with infected blood. People need to be advised to avoid sharing razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers, and other items of personal use with deposits of a patient’s blood.  Care needs to be taken to cover open wounds and sores with bandage.  Tampons, sanitary napkins, tissues, used bandages, and other such disposables need to be dumped or destroyed strictly according to prescribed rules. Also, infected individuals should not donate blood.  But there is absolutely no need for the patient to be kept 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 crisis.