14 May 2003

Concern over mystery disease at a PNG prison in Lae

11:24 am on 14 May 2003

Papua New Guinea authorities responsible fot the Buimo jail in Lae say they are worried about a possible epidemic among their 600 inmates, after a mystery illness struck, killing two and infecting another 10.

The jail commander, Samson Jaro says medical authorities are baffled by the illness - the symptoms of which are abdominal pains, high temperatures, heavy breathing and numbness in their limbs.

Mr Jaro says the ten still infected have been isolated but are given just limited medical care.

He outlined the problems they face which he fears could spark an epidemic.

"Overcrowding is one of our problem in the provisions of health of the medical officer. We see the institution once a month but this is not happening for a long time. We take them to hospital, we have a clinic here, we treat them but when we take them to hospital they don't treat them."

Samson Jaro says national health authorities are expected at Buimo jail today.