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Disease has spread across country

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 9, 2010) – Cholera has killed 79 people in five provinces since it surfaced in the country last year.

Experts say it can be easily contained if the people listen to warnings about faeces, fluids, food, fingers, and flies or five ’Fs’, or else it may continue to spread throughout the country.

It was first reported in Morobe early last year with several deaths in Wasu area.

It then spread in the province, including Lae, the second largest city of PNG.

There are still cases being reported in Morobe, but mostly in the city, although they are mostly mild and are being treated and sent home.

After Morobe, the disease spread to Madang, Eastern highlands, East Sepik, West Sepik, Western Highlands, National Capital District and Central provinces.

The latest figures for the different provinces are Morobe - 800 cases with 32 deaths; Madang has seven deaths; East Sepik - 834 cases, 20 deaths; Central Province - 1554 cases, 16 deaths; NCD - 1024 cases, 4 deaths; Eastern Highlands - three (3) cases, no deaths; West Sepik - one case, no death; Western Highlands - one case, no deaths.

A Health Department surveillance officer, when giving an update on the situation on cholera, said the disease was spreading fast in areas that had poor sanitation practices and water supply.

Also, when the disease is first reported in a village or area, it spreads fast and then when people begin to take note and heed the health warnings, the number of cases drop.

At this stage, Central and Madang are reporting high cases. "Madang is continuing to see a rise in cases," said the officer.

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