BHUBANESWAR, India (Reuters) - A cholera outbreak in Orissa has killed at least 58 tribal people and left over 1,800 sick over the past two weeks, health officials said on Saturday, warning it was reaching epidemic proportions.
The outbreak in impoverished Orissa has been caused by drinking polluted water and eating contaminated meat, they added. "The situation is not under control, and although we are giving medicines to victims the outbreak is slowly reaching epidemic proportions," said P. Sitaram, a senior health official in Bhubaneswar.
About 700 people were admitted in local hospitals, and health workers were supplying drinking water and food to thousands of villagers, who were desperate for food in the south-western district of Raygada, officials and witnesses said.
Cholera often causes severe diarrhoea or vomiting that can result in dehydration and death.
Orissa is facing monsoon floods in several districts that has marooned thousands of people and killed dozens since early August. The cholera deaths were not linked to the floods, officials said.
"The tribals drink water from dirty ponds and drains and eat contaminated meat from carcasses, making them vulnerable to diseases like cholera," Sitaram said. The tribals are the poorest and most marginalised community in India, with the worst social and health indicators, and make up around 8 percent of 1.1-billion population in the country.