Uncertainty over dysentery outbreak in American Samoa
There's uncertainty over an amoebic dysentery outbreak in American Samoa.
American Samoa is still not certain as to the cause of an amoebic dysentery outbreak.
Twenty-five people have been diagnosed with the condition and a number needed hospital treatment.
Our correspondent in Pago Pago, Monica Miller, told Don Wiseman that the people have been told that health officials are looking at a number of possible causes.
MONICA MILLER: One being maybe it's touching food that is prepared with unclean hands; maybe some streams nearby, the kids are exposed to, that have some substances in them; and then possibly the water situation. The common denominator is that most of the people that are affected are from villages that are still required to boil their water. But as the executive director of the American Samoa Power Authority said, that's not fair to say that the water supply is the reason for the outbreak.
DON WISEMAN: The situation with the people having to boil their water, where are they sourcing their water from?
MM: This is the public water system, but these villages, for the past I think three years, the American Samoa Power Authority and the American Samoa EPA have been trying to improve the water supply so that the boiled water notice can be lifted. But while some villages have had their boiled water notices lifted, there's still a large area on the island of Tutuila that is still having to boil their water. I think at homes, everybody knows that they're either buying water or boiling their water. But what happens is there's concern in the schools that while there are provisions for the American Samoa Power Authority to supply clean water to schools, that this is not being done all the time and maybe there are children that are drinking tap water.
DW: As far as the amoebic dysentery goes, how many people do we have know that have got it?
MM: Last report we've got, there was more than 25 people so far. We haven't had any more reports of additional cases. There's also suggestions that this may have been going on in the past but that there really wasn't much attention paid to it until the boiled water notices were imposed. But as I say, the fact that we have an epidemiologist on island working with the health department, I think that's another reason why we're now getting better information about when the amoebic outbreak is happening.
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