Who is to answer for the AGE epidemic? PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 23 May 2016 13:33



In my last piece ( May 19, 2016) I wrote about the acute gastroenteritis (AGE) epidemic we had in the city in the month of April. It was traced to either  notovirus or rotavirus contaminated water in the pipes and water from some refilling stations. There were also traces of fecal matter contamination which might have seeped into the pipes because of the use of booster pumps by some  subscribers.

Some 14 people died as a result of the epidemic as reported by the CHO. (Latest report makes the number 19.)

In the last 12 months or so the city of Flint in  Michigan in the USA  also  had a serious problem with their water supply. But their problem was much more serious than ours. Because of bureaucratic considerations  the city’s water district decided to change the source of its water supply. One thing led to another and soon it was discovered that the city’s water supply had a very high level of lead contamination. The reader can google this if there is a need to explain more fully what happened in Flint. Lead does not cause AGE but something even more serious – children who taken in a high level of lead are likely to have cognitive dysfunction syndrome later and this cannot be reversed.

Why am I bringing this up in connection with the  AGE epidemic in ZC in April and early May? The epidemic resulted in 14 deaths and it is important that we think about accountability for this. I am not agitating  that the families of those who died demand their pound of flesh. I am not even sure from whom this should be demanded. But a basic service to ZC  residents like that of water supply  should be utterly trustworthy for our safety and our lives depend on this. In Flint the bureaucrats held responsible for the late and ineffective response to the lead contamination crisis will be prosecuted by the Attorney General. What will happen in our city?

To indirectly point a finger at those who use booster pumps is to sidestep the issue. If the ZCWD has long ago disallowed the use of booster pumps then those who do use this device should be penalized. But the ZCWD also has a duty to deliver safe drinking water to the subscribers and if it cannot then the subscribers must be informed to take the appropriate precautions. Were these warnings for precaution made soon enough?

I am completely sympathetic to the situation of the ZCWD over the water rationing that goes on even up to today. In our  house we observed that when the schedule for having water is on, the first flow of the water was murky and dirty looking.  It was then that we decided to drink only the water we buy from the refilling station. But then it turned out that even this was not safe unless boiled too. Shall we get rebates from our water bill for the extra costs we had to cover? And when can things get back to normal as to the safety of our water?