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Nepal

Kathmandu, Nepal valley water infected with coliform

August 07, 2012
LAXMI MAHARJAN
KATHMANDU: Do you use tap water for drinking purpose? If you do, better boil it for about seven minutes or do double filtering or treat it with chlorine to make it drinkable. A bacteriological analysis conducted by the National Public Health Laboratory shows seven in 10 households (70 per cent) in the
Valley is receiving water that contains high levels of coliform bacteria which can cause diarrhoea and vomiting.
After cholera cases were confirmed in some areas in the Capital, the Kathmandu District Public Health Office collected water samples from Teku, Bhimsenthan, Kalimati, Swoyambhu, Gaushala and Chhauni, and sent them to NPHL for bacteriological analysis. Though none of the samples contained vibrio cholerae strain, which causes cholera, results for faecal coliform were startling. The lab tests conducted under Most Probable Number method showed tap water in seven out of 10 houses contained more than 180 faecal coliform bacteria per 100 ml, and drinking such water without treatment could pose serious health hazard. The permissible number of faecal coliform in drinking water should not go beyond five per 100 ml.
“It is an alarming situation,” said Mahendra Prasad Shrestha, Chief of DPHO, Kathmandu. Shrestha said samples were collected after more cholera cases were confirmed at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital. Shrestha suggested that water supplied in Kathmandu is undrinkable and must be treated before drinking it. Coliform bacteria are found in digestive tracts of animals, as well as humans, and are found in their faeces. If ingested through contaminated food or water, they cause bacterial gastroenteritis, dysentery, jaundice, Hepatitis A, typhoid fever, and associated problems.
Faecal coliform, like other bacteria, can usually be killed by boiling water or by treating it with chlorine. Washing thoroughly with soap after contact with contaminated water can also help prevent infections.
The last identified case of cholera in Kathmandu was in the first week of July. However, cholera has claimed at least 12 lives in Doti and Gorkha since mid-June.

Non-potable
• Tap water in seven out of 10 houses in Teku, Bhimsenthan, Kalimati, Swoyambhu, Gaushala and Chhauni is contaminated.
• More than 180 faecal coliform bacteria found in per 100 ml of water
• Permissible number of faecal coliform in drinking water should not go beyond five per 100 ml
• Coliform can cause gastroenteritis, dysentery, jaundice, Hepatitis A and typhoid fever.

The Himalayan Time, Nepal

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About WashMedia-South Asia

WashMedia-South Asia is a group of South Asian journalists working on water, sanitation and hygiene issues. Theses journalists are from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

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