4 Jun 2003

Explanation for mystery jail ailment in PNG still 10 days away

4:58 pm on 4 June 2003

It will be around ten more days before health authorities in Papua New Guinea will know the cause of a mystery ailment affecting 31 people at a jail near Lae in Morobe Province.

The prisoners have been isolated at Buimo jail for several weeks suffering with weak and swelling limbs and vision problems.

The deaths of four inmates over the same period are now not thought to be related to the mystery condition.

The provincial advisor on health Dr Likei Theo says he is still waiting for an epidemiologist and a forensic pathologist to come from Port Moresby.

He says they are now due at the weekend.

Dr Theo believes the four deaths were probably due to malaria or typhoid and he says the mystery illness may be due to the poor nutrition at the jail.

"what has happened is that the prison has turned to a lowest quality rations, because of the cost factor....that is one of the highest suspicions at the moment, but again, that needs to be established."

Dr Likei Theo.