Cholera and other water borne diseases, which have claimed 39 lives since August, have infected 124 more people in Orissa's Rayagada district in the last two days, and triggered panic among the residents, an official said Tuesday.
According to the latest data, the number of people and villages affected by the diseases has risen to 784 and 156 respectively.
'Over 100 more people have been infected and the diseases have been reported from 54 new villages,' an official of the health control room told IANS.
However, local newspapers claimed that the government figure was far from the real figure.
Dharitri, a vernacular Oriya daily, said in a report Tuesday that the number of deaths in Rayagada district has crossed the 100 mark and the number of people affected has crossed the 1,000 figure. Another vernacular newspaper 'The Samaja' said the disease has also spread to the neighbouring Gajapati and Nabrangpur districts.
The paper also said that during the past two days, at least seven people have died of cholera and other water borne diseases in Rayagada, Gajapati and Nabrangpur.
However, the state health control room said they do not have such information.
A nervous state government Monday sent 30 more doctors to the affected areas.
'We have sent 30 more doctors and 40 para-medical staff,' a state health official told IANS, adding that Health Minister Prasanna Acharya and Health Secretary Anu Garg will visit the Rayagada Tuesday to assess the situation.
A unit of the Orissa Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) consisting of eight personnel was also pressed into service Monday to bring patients from inaccessible areas.
'We are taking all steps to bring the situation under control,' District Collector N.B. Jawale said, adding that around 50 patients undergo treatment in various health camps and hospitals in the region every day.
However, a doctor said: 'We are struggling to prevent the disease from spreading. But the patients do not come to the hospital for treatment.'
The state government last week announced incentives for those bringing patients to government hospital.
The government has also decided to provide one 'dhoti' (traditional loin cloth) and a bar of soap to each male patient and a saree and a bar soap to each of the female patients.