Flooding brings epidemic fear

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The Independent Online

Medical teams with vaccines to help combat the threat of epidemics have been deployed in India's flood-devastated north-eastern states, where more rain is forecast, a government official said yesterday.

Medical teams with vaccines to help combat the threat of epidemics have been deployed in India's flood-devastated north-eastern states, where more rain is forecast, a government official said yesterday.

Field staff in the remote state of Assam had reported that people were suffering from fever and skin diseases caused by contaminated water, but there were no signs of epidemics so far, the official said.

About 300 people are feared dead and millions have been left homeless by monsoon flooding in north and northeast India, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh. "Medical teams have spread out to affected districts of Assam with medicines, vaccines and first aid materials to set up medical centres," Biren Dutta, secretary in the Health and Family Welfare Department said. "Our medical teams have sufficient medicines and every precaution has been taken to prevent outbreaks of epidemics like cholera."

Water levels have started receding and Assam's main river, Brahmaputra, and its tributaries were below the danger level yesterday. However, the local meteorological office has forecast more heavy rain within 24 hours.

About 500 people in a relief camp about 20 miles from Guwahati, Assam's main city, have moved back to their villages, Satyen Talukdar, a local civil servant, said. Many government relief camps have been closed down as people returned home. Indian Red Cross volunteers were distributing butter, oil, biscuits, baby food, blankets, mosquito nets, tarpaulins and utensils to those still in camps who have lost their homes.

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