Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mysterious disease kills 13



A MYSTERIOUS disease has killed 13 people, including three children, in the Murray Valley area of North Fly district, Western, The National reports.

The villages affected are Sanganabip, Fakgubip, Kwerimin and Dahamo.

These villages are near the Juha and Hides liquefied natural gas (LNG) project areas on the border of the Southern Highlands and Western.

District manager Michael Rameng told The National from Tabubil yesterday that according to reports they received, the “mystery” illness caused vomiting, stomach aches and people were defecating with blood.

He said they received the report of the outbreak two weeks ago from villagers who had to walk a day to the nearest aid post at Serbang village to use the two-way radio to get in touch with the district administration.

Rameng did not specify how many people from which village had died but said a team of health officials, with the help of officers from the Ok Tedi Mining Ltd, had flown into the area on Monday to assess the situation and give a report when they returned on Friday.

He  said at this point, they did not know what the disease was but they were not ruling out cholera.

Rameng said the area had experienced heavy rain recently and the village’s water sources could be contaminated from flood waters.

Bolivip ward councillor and former governor Norbert Makmop said people did not have any access to health facilities and had to walk long distances to get treatment.

Olsobip LLG manager and North Fly district manager were informed of this and they forwarded reports to the North Fly authorities for urgent medical teams with medical supplies to be flown in.

“Whatever the killer disease, we fear it could spread to other villages in Western, SHP and West Sepik,” Makmop said

Western Governor Dr Bob Danaya said last night that he was briefed on the deaths while visiting Kiunga over the weekend.

“From what I have heard, it sounds like a viral attack.

“The complaints sound pneumonia-like, but it could be severe malaria.

“Children are affected because many children in the areas are not immunised because the area is very remote.

“We will have to wait and see the results of tests before we provide the appropriate and adequate response,” Danaya said.

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