Nearly 60 gastro cases seen in three Rupununi villages

Region 9 has recorded 58 cases of gastroenteritis and the Ministry of Public Health has in response dispatched a five-person team to Aishalton, Shea Village and Awaruwaunau.

Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence yesterday told the Press and Publicity Unit of the Ministry of Presidency that on January 06, 2017 Acting Regional Health Officer Dr. Roland Cho Yoe reported that he received messages from the Community Health Workers (CHWs) in the three villages in the Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo region that there was a substantial number of persons who had shown signs of Gastroenteritis.

As a result the team -which includes Cho Yoe, an infectious disease nurse, an environmental assistant and two pharmacy assistants- travelled to the three villages and held meetings with the Toshaos and village population to speak to them about the present illness, hygiene and how to prevent further contamination.

The visiting team in the company of the CHW and Toshaos has also conducted house-to-house visits in an attempt to address the situation. These visits established that there were 58 cases of the infection in the three villages of patients who are predominately school children. There has been no reported fatality.

Having noted that most residents were not sterilising their drinking water, Lawrence further explained that the team has sent samples to Lethem for testing. These results will inform the Ministry’s action going forward.

“The infectious disease staff nurse was sent in to look at all the elements to ascertain which of these elements the cause is. We looked at the animals, drinking water and whether mining in the area would’ve affected the water in anyway…it has been reported that they have only come across one family who boiled their water and that is because a parent has come down with gastro,” Lawrence noted.

Lawrence also stated that the villages fortunately have medication on hand to deal with the outbreak since former Minister of Health, Dr. George Norton visited the villages and took medication including those for Gastroenteritis on Christmas Eve.

She further noted that the Ministry is collaborating with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ministries of Natural Resources, Agriculture, Communities and Indigenous People’s Affairs to address the issue.

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