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Outbreak outstrips Cholera, also claiming victims

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, September 15, 2009) – Seventy two people were last night added to the list of people that have succumbed to dysentery, the water borne disease that is spreading like bushfire in Morobe, Eastern Highlands and Gulf provinces. The latest figures supplied by government officials bring the total number of people claimed by a dysentery outbreak in the three provinces to 177 — far outstripping the number of deaths recorded for cholera, another deadly disease gripping Morobe and which is slowly moving into the Highlands.

[PIR editor’s note: According to "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Dangerous Diseases and Epidemics," dysentery is an inflammation of the intestine characterized by the frequent passage of feces with blood and mucus. Like cholera, dysentery is spread by fecal contamination of food and water, usually in impoverished areas with poor sanitation.]

Yesterday, authorities in Goroka went into action after the first case of cholera was confirmed in Asaro, where a Watabung man was diagnosed with the diarrhoea like disease. The man is said have been placed in quarantine in Goroka as the authorities step up efforts to contain the spread of the disease into the populous highlands region. The Eastern Highlands Provincial Government established a task force to take the lead in containing the disease. While the battle moves into top gear to combat cholera, in the far flung Semberi and Andakombi areas in the Obura Wonenara district, 29 people were reported to have died from dysentery – 13 females, six males and 10 children. Six teams of health workers with the support of officers from Care

International have been in the area since last week attending to the outbreak. In the mountains of Kaintiba, Gulf Province, 43 people, mostly children, have died from dysentery and influensa in four villages and no form of help is yet to reach them from Kerema. Menyamya district nursing officer Titus Mathew revealed this last night. The deaths for July and August stand as: Kwayu 3; Komako 3; Bu’u Angai 30 and Uvokuo 7. All these villages are in the Kotidanga LLG of Kaintiba districts. Statistics reveal that 70 percent of the deaths were children under the age of six years.

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