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MOUNT HAGEN, Papua New Guinea (January 5, 1999 - Post-Courier)---More than 40 people died from typhoid fever in Western Highlands Province out of more than 600 patients reportedly admitted to Mount Hagen General Hospital last year.

According to a report from the hospital's acting chief executive officer, Dr. James Kintua, the number of cases and deaths is increasing.

He said there could be more deaths in those communities for which statistics are not yet available.

Dr. Kintua said, apart from the deaths, typhoid patients were rated number one in admissions compared to other diseases.

He said since the epidemic started, it had become a common killer in many communities.

Dr. Kintua said people were still not careful regarding their eating and drinking habits, which he said was the main cause of the disease.

According to Dr. Kintua the rise in the number of reported cases is the result of people eating unhygienic food and drinking contaminated water.

The Post-Courier reported recently that typhoid was becoming a common killer in communities in the Highlands region.

This was especially so in the Western Highlands where the number of deaths and admissions to the hospital had risen in recent years.

Meanwhile, health authorities in Kavieng, New Ireland Province, have reported a decline in the number of patients treated for typhoid at the Kavieng hospital over the last four weeks.

Provincial health adviser, Dr. Joachim Taulo, said precautions had been taken when the disease broke out in Kavieng township last month that were designed to lessen the likelihood town residents would contract and spread the disease.

Dr. Taulo said a special committee was set up, comprised of health and Kavieng Town Authority representatives, to monitor and control the spread of the disease, which had resulted in it declining.

He said the authority had put a stop to the selling of cooked food at the market and along streets.

Health inspectors also carried out tests on the town water supply while all fast food outlets were warned to apply precautionary measures when preparing food.

Dr. Taulo also warned residents to be extra careful when handling food and use clean water.

He said people should report to the hospital immediately for treatment when they begin to feel sick, and not wait until they are very ill.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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