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Lagoon turns yellow, with foul odor

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, February 15, 2009) – There has been a recent outbreak of an unknown disease that is killing chickens and marine life along the Sissano lagoon area in Aitape, the Health Department warned yesterday.

In a news statement Health secretary Dr Clement Malau said NBC Sandaun on Monday night said that locals had reported the mysterious death of 60 chickens at Sissano village last month.

Dr Malau said people even found dead fish and other marine life on the surface after the water in the lagoon had turned into a yellowish colour.

The NBC report stated that some fisherman in the area also found that the fish they had caught turned bad and let out a foul smell.

With the avian flu threat in East Asia and parts of Indonesia, Dr Malau said the department was embarking on a strategic health plan for appropriate counter measures to be taken immediately.

He commended the Agriculture and Livestock and Fisheries departments in Sandaun for their on-going efforts in monitoring the situation via the local radio station to advise people there to take precautionary health measures.

"The department, through its surveillance team, will contact Sandaun provincial authorities to verify the situation and decide on steps to take once information is gathered.

"A technical team would be sent to the area with the possible assistance of our development partners like World Health Organisation," Dr Malau said.

The department further advised people in the area not to touch dead birds and animals with uncovered hands and nose and also not to consume any dead fish and must dispose them in dug-out pits.

People should thoroughly wash their hands and feet and drink from a fresh water source like a water tank.

Dr Malau yesterday thanked the local radio station for making public this health risk information.

The National:


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