27 Jan 2011

PNG health officials unable to explain mystery illness

11:24 am on 27 January 2011

Health officials in Papua New Guinea are still to confirm newspaper reports that ten people have died of a mysterious illness in remote villages in Northern Province.

Local media have carried stories saying the deaths have caused panic in the Upper Musa area in the Owen Stanley Ranges.

It's been reported the victims suffer painful swelling in the legs which then spreads to the arms and hands, the stomach and the head.

But assistant secretary of health, Dr Pison Dakulala, says they are still checking the veracity of the claims.

"The source of the information that has come through regarding the mysterious diseases is not verified, and so we are working to try and find out, with the team dispatched down to gather us more clarity. Really at this point I can't say what the picture is."