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By Aenet Rowa

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Yokwe, March 14) – Two U.S. Center for Disease Control doctors are on Majuro trying to locate the source of an outbreak of Typhoid Fever. Currently, there are 24 cases of this bacterial infection on the capital atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, according to Dr. Alex Pinano.

The disease, most often caused by fecal contamination in the water supply, appears to be coming from the Rita area, Dr. Pinano told Chamber of Commerce members at the regular monthly meeting on March 13, 2007.

Chamber member Ben Chutaro said that problems with ground water wells were identified in the Jenrok area, which is on the same side of the Atoll, over two years ago. Most households are not connected to the island’s sanitary sewers due to failure to pay for Majuro Water and Sewer services.

He questioned why this serious health issue has not been confronted. The Marshall Isalnds Chamber unanimously appointed Ben to identify appropriate measures that the Chamber should pursue to encourage the government to properly address this health concern.

Dr. Pinano said that there are vaccines for Typhoid available, but supplies are not on-island. The country does not include the vaccines in its regime of shots.

Residents should be advised to boil any ground water obtained from wells to kill this kind of bacteria.

With the current drought in effect, there is the possibility that some businesses may be tempted to use well water as it might be involved in the preparation of food or what will become food such as ice for fresh fish.

According to the meeting minutes supplied by Secretary James A. McLean, the Chamber suggested that it would be a good idea for the Ministry of Health and other authorities to anticipate this risk and appropriately advise all organizations that this should not be done in the interest of public health.

It was also reported that the acting Chief Secretary has not been able to convene a quorum of the National Disaster Committee to meet concerning the Typhoid epidemic.

In April and May of 2006, there were 22 confirmed cases. Local health officials voiced their concern at that time about the increase of typhoid cases.

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