More than 80 people have died from an outbreak of cholera in tribal districts of India's eastern state of Orissa over the past month, media reports said.
The outbreak has affected Orissa's southern districts of Koraput and Rayagada districts and is now spreading to neighbouring districts of Kalahandi and Gajapati, the NDTV network reported.
According to Orissa health authorities 49 people had died in Rayagada, 34 in Koraput and the remaining in the Kalahandi district in the past 40 days. But local news outlets estimate that the death toll could be as high as 300.
More than 6,000 people have received treatment for the water-borne disease at government hospitals so far, officials told the news channel.
The disease, which is common in India, is caused by infection of the intestine by bacteria and often causes severe diarrhoea or vomiting that can result in dehydration and death.
A team of federal health officials visited the worst-affected area of Kashipur in Rayagada and would submit a report to the Federal Health Ministry.
This was after Federal Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss has accused the state government of not doing enough to contain the spread of the disease saying fresh cases continue to be reported from new areas.
According to media reports, every year between the monsoon months of July and September, the tribal districts report cases of diarrhoea and gastro-intestinal disorders that claim several lives.
But instead of taking steps to prevent such outbreaks, Orissa officials blame tribals saying their habits of consuming contaminated food and water has been responsible for the spread of the disease.
"The habit of the tribal people is irresponsible. They drink water from drains and rivers and do not use tubewell water," Benudhar Nayak, a senior health official of Kashipur told the NDTV.
The Kalahandi, Koraput and Rayagada regions are among the most underdeveloped parts of India and have made news in the national media for famine deaths.
Last Mod: 29 Ağustos 2007, 18:34