Chittagong Bureau, bdnews24.com
Published: 2017-07-13 18:53:51 BdST
A five-strong medical team from the government-run Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research or IEDCR visited 13 children who were admitted to Chittagong Medical College Hospital on Thursday.
Nine children from Tripura Para of Sonaichhari in Baraulia died after suffering conditions including high fever and breathing troubles in a span of four days.
More than 50 children from the remote village were hospitalised with the same conditions.
“These children are severely malnourished because of their socio-economic condition,” IEDCR Chief Scientific Officer Md Faruk Ahmed Bhuiyan told reporters.
“Our primary assumption is that they contracted the disease because of the vulnerability caused by long-time malnutrition.”
“They are severely anaemic, undernourished and lack potassium. Their haemoglobin count is below average. Their weakness may be the main cause for contracting this illness,” Bhuiyan added.
The IEDCR team has collected blood, stool and saliva samples from the sick children, he said.
“We’ll do some tests locally and send samples to Dhaka for more advanced examinations. We hope to identify the disease after completing our entire analysis in two days.”
Earlier in the day, two committees were formed to look into the deaths of these children.
Chittagong District Civil Surgeon Dr Azizur Rahman Siddiqui told bdnews24.com that their three-member team will submit their findings within 72 hours.
Mirsarai Upazila Health Officer Dr Md Abdul Malek is heading this committee.
The other committee was formed by the Sitakunda Upazila Health Complex. This team, led by one of the doctors from the medical facility, also has three members and has been given the same deadline for their report.
The children, aged between 2 and 10, are all from Tripura Para, a village mostly inhabited by members of the small ethnic group who farm in the hills or work as day labourers.
Only a handful of the hundreds of children in Tripura Para go to school. Their daily lives are limited to their village households.
The children started falling ill from the end of last month, experiencing high fever, rashes, breathing troubles and seizure.
Their parents did not move them to a hospital, so local government officials in Chittagong came to learn about the strange illness after nine succumbed to the conditions.
A team led by the civil surgeon in Chittagong had set up a medical camp in Tripura Para and took 46 children to a hospital. Another six children were hospitalised on Thursday.
Of the 52 sick children, 13 are admitted to Bangladesh Institute of Tropical and Infectious Disease or BITID located in Fouzdarhat.
One among the 13 admitted at CMCH has been put under intensive care. The others are slowly recovering, said Dr Bhuiyan.
“They are being given food high in nutrition. Our team has also recommended a nutrition programme for their village.”
The children were subjected to treatment by village witchdoctors, according doctors who visited Tripura Para and spoke to their guardians.
“They first tried to hide the deaths from us when we went to Tripura Para. The parents tried to cure them through exorcisms and by confining them indoors,” said Dr AM Mujibul Haque, health department chief for Chittagong Division.
The doctors explained the threat to their parents and after much persuasion, they were allowed to hospitalise the children, he said.
“They suffered from fever and were vomiting because of gland inflammation. The ones who died had severe pneumonia.”