Czech Republic: Dysentery on the rise in Ostrava's residential hotels
News server iDNES.cz reported on Thursday, 20 September that an epidemic of bacillary dysentery has swamped several residential hotels in Ostrava. Last Tuesday public health officials had recorded 21 cases particularly among Romani children, rising to 31 cases by Wednesday. The mayor of the Svinov municipality is angry and says she only learned of the epidemic at a very late stage.
The Czech daily Mladá fronta DNES reported the epidemic to the public on Wednesday, 19 September. Public health officials, however, have been addressing numerous dysentery cases for approximately one month.
Helena Šebáková, a regional public health official, says the dysentery has gradually spread among 10 families, infecting 10 adults and 21 children. "These are socially deprived families living with a lower standard of hygiene," Šebáková said. "There are 20 patients hospitalized in our infectious diseases ward," confirmed Tomáš Oborný, spokesperson for the Ostrava Teaching Hospital.
For the time being only one person has caught the disease in the town of Bohumín. "The woman caught the disease by visiting a residential hotel in Ostrava-Svinov. She is hospitalized in the infectious diseases ward," said Lucie Balcarová, spokesperson for the Bohumín town hall.
Public health officials say the greatest number of infected persons live in the residential hotel in Svinov-Dubí, but Luděk Vavrečka, who runs the hotel, denies this. He also angrily disagreed with the first information reported by Mf DNES that about 14 of those who had fallen ill were his clients.
"There are definitely not that many people ill here. The hygiene department is listing the names of children who don't even live in my residential hotel," he claimed to Mf DNES, adding that he was following all of the health department's instructions. He then hung up the phone.
Mayor of Svinov Eva Poštová is angry about the lack of clarity regarding the epidemic. "The health department knew about the dysentery as early as mid-August, but we only heard about it from the town hall three days ago when the department finally announced it. I won't stand for that kind of behavior," she said angrily. "Many children live in the residential hotel, half of the school in Svinov could have caught dysentery by now. Fortunately that hasn't happened."
Poštová says the owner of the residential hotel, the Estate Movit Ostrava company, is permitted to accommodate 71 people there instead of the 20 people for which the building was originally designed. "The public health department even expressed its opinion that the residential hotel is not appropriate for children, but they are living there nonetheless. Social workers regularly visit the facility to determine what sort of conditions the children are living in. There are still more people living there than are officially permitted. Anyone can see that," Poštová said.
"On Přednádraží street, no cases of dysentery have been reported, even though there is only one tap with running water there and the electricity has been turned off to three of the buildings. Nevertheless, we will inform residents there to take care not to catch it," said Kumar Vishwanathan, the chair of the Life Together (Vzájemné soužití) association, which is helping residents on Přednádraží street in Ostrava.
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