The residents of Meerath village in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir are providing a breeding ground for the dengue-causing mosquitoes as the scarcity of drinking water forces them to store it in almost every utensil they can.
People are facing a hard choice either to go thirsty or store drinking water and allow deadly mosquitoes to breed.
"Majority of the positive dengue cases reported from Kathua district are from Meerath village and the reason we found for this was very disturbing," a senior health official, requesting anonymity, said.
"When our men went for spraying pesticide in the village they found people storing water in every utensil they had. We found up on enquiry that there is scarcity of water in the area and people get drinking water once a fortnight so they store it in almost every utensil," the official said.
The health officials tested the water and found it was filled with the larvae of Aedes mosquitoes which breed in stagnant water.
Meanwhile, the village residents said they have no other alternative. "We get water once a fortnight so we are forced to store it in every container that we have at our house," Mahan Lal a resident of the village said.
Deputy Commissioner Kathua Ramesh Kumar said the administration was aware of the increase in the number of dengue cases in the village and steps were being taken to contain it.
"We are aware of the problem. We agree there is no regular water supply in the area. The village is inhabited mostly by the labour class people. They store water in open containers as they don't have big storage tanks," he said.
He said even though the water supply was not regular in the area, the residents have been advised to keep water in containers having lids.
"The administration has been doing fogging in the area. I have asked the Chief Medical Officer of the district to personally visit there and monitor the situation," he said.
He said the administration will hold medical camps for the people and would send blood samples of those exhibiting dengue-like symptoms to confirm if they were positive.
Meanwhile, health officials said the situation in the village is alarming and if measures are not taken immediately spread of the disease can be difficult to contain.
"Our men who went to the village found Aedes larvae in the storage water in almost every household, we are taking steps to control the spread of the disease but people also need to cooperate," the health official said.
So far blood samples of 351 people having dengue-like symptoms were tested for the virus out of which 52 were found positive in the entire Jammu region.