A medical team from the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) suspects that the nine children who died in Sitakunda may have been suffering from severe malnourishment.
Meanwhile, quoting the members of the IEDCR team, Dr Azizur Rahman Siddiqui, civil surgeon of Chittagong, told the Dhaka Tribune that the outbreak of the yet-to-be-known disease was not a contagious one.
The reasons behind the deaths will be decisively confirmed after analysing the samples collected from the affected children, they said.
The team made the primary observation while speaking to reporters on Thursday after examining the children admitted to the Bangladesh Institute of Tropical and Infectious Disease (BITID) at Fouzderhat in Chittagong.
Nine children have died in just four days due to the outbreak of an unknown disease, while 46 others have fallen sick at a remote hilly area of Sonaichhari in Baro Awlia in Chittagong's Sitakunda upazila. All of the affected children belong to the local Tripura community.
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A mother on the bedside of her two ailing children, who have been suffering from a mysterious disease, at the Chittagong Medical College Hospital on Wednesday, July 12, 2017 Rabin Chowdhury/Dhaka Tribune
Sixty-four families of the ethnic community live in the remote Tripura Para. Jum cultivation and working in the orchards in the main source of income for the indigenous community. Almost all the families in the community have had one or two children fall victim to the yet-to-be-identified disease.
Also Read- Mysterious disease claims life of 9 Sitakunda children in 4 days
Thirty-three children are currently undergoing treatment at the BITID while 13 others are at the Chittagong Medical College Hospital.
Dr Faruk Ahmed Bhuiyan, chief scientific officer of the Department of Epidemiology of the IEDCR and leader of the four-person medical team, told the reporters that they had finished preliminary examinations of the children.
“We have collected blood, urine and other samples from the affected children. After primary tests, it seems to us that they were suffering from severe malnutrition. However, the suspicion can only be confirmed after analysing the collected samples,” he said.
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Another mother on the bedside of her two ailing children, who have been suffering from a mysterious disease, at the Chittagong Medical College Hospital on Wednesday, July 12, 2017 Rabin Chowdhury/Dhaka Tribune
Chittagong Civil Surgeon Dr Siddiqui had earlier confirmed to the Dhaka Tribune that the children had not died from mosquito-borne diseases like dengue or chikungunya.
“The children affected by the unknown disease are showing symptoms like fever, rash, diarhhoea, vomiting and respiratory problems for the last three days,” said the Civil Surgeon.
Nazmul Islam Bhuiyan, Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) of Sitakunda told the Dhaka Tribune that all the children affected by the unidentified disease were between 1-15 years old.
“We have asked the people of the local ethnic community to not send their children to school for a few days to contain the spread of the unknown disease,” said the UNO.
Chittagong DC promises clean, pure water supply
On Thursday afternoon, Chittagong Deputy Commissioner Zillur Rahman Chowdhury visited the disease-hit Sonaichhari area and promised to install 10 deep tube-wells to reduce water crisis in the area.
According to locals, due to the area's remoteness, the Tripura people living there have been depending on natural sources to meet their water demand.
The Chittagong District Administration also pledged to give Tk10,000 and substantial quantity of rice to the sick children's families.