41 children in the Mbuwa District of the Nduga Regency in the Province of Papua, Indonesia, have reportedly died from an unknown disease. Medical response teams have since arrived in the area to assess the situation but the cause of deaths have yet to be determined.
The Jakarta Post reports that following rainfall, after experiencing drought, livestock such as poultry and pigs also perished abruptly, and the deaths of the 41 children occurred simultaneously with reports only being made known over the last three days.
Medical officials say that blood samples of the deceased children were taken but tested negative for Malaria. According to Wamena City community health clinic analysis member Yan Hubi, similar deaths had occurred in 1998 after a long drought in the Pegunungan Tengah mountain range region where hundred died from a Malaria epidemic.
“They initially caught the flu, then diarrhea and then later, they died. We asked for malaria analysis, conducted a rapid test in the district and later a microscopic test at a lab in Wamena. Of the 70 blood samples, all were negative for malaria,” said Yan.
Concerned community leaders have called on the health ministry to investigate the deaths and provide immediate assistance. Should there be a epidemic, they say, measures must be taken to prevent its spread.