100 Die in Papua New Guinea Outbreaks

LAE, Papua New Guinea, Sept. 19 (UPI) — Cholera, influenza and diarrhea outbreaks have killed more than 100 people and infected more than 6,000 in three provinces of Papua New Guinea, officials say.

Victor Golpak, coordinator for the national Department of Health, told the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs that health workers have been trying to stop the spread of the unrelated outbreaks.

He noted cholera was detected for the first time in the country in July and stressed the need for good hygiene.

“People are now aware that cholera is a basic hygiene problem, and we can all contain it if we wash our hands,” Golpak said. “That’s our big drive. We want to get the message across because this is a new disease in Papua New Guinea, and people don’t understand it.”

Golpak said authorities suspect cholera was brought in by Southeast Asian workers at a logging operation in the area or aboard a fishing vessel.

Cholera has spread to the city of Lae, heightening fears it could be transmitted to the heavily populated Highlands Region by people traveling out of the city on the Highlands Highway, Golpak said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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