Boy dies, brother ‘brain dead’ in unknown illness, health officials baffled-Norton

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Public Health Minister, Dr George Norton
Public Health Minister, Dr George Norton

The death of a nine-year-old boy from the village of Kako, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) and the hopeless condition of his 11-year-old brother who was said to be brain dead has caused alarm in the small community and has left health officials baffled, said Public Health Minister, Dr George Norton.

Norton, at an emergency press briefing on Monday, stated that health officials were concerned by the situation and also baffled by the circumstances surrounding the death of the child. He stated that while the situation was not linked to meningitis as reported in some sections of the media, it has been determined that it was linked to encephalopathy (brain damage).

Tests were conducted by local medical officials, while other samples were sent to Trinidad and Tobago for further evaluation. According to Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Karen Boyle, those results will be back by the end of this week.

She indicated that the origin of the illness suffered by the boys was unknown, but the symptoms pointed to a toxin. However, she was quick to state that it was not linked to any mining activity in the area.

Notably, mining takes place about half a mile from the village. “Kako is in the Kako River about half a mile from the Kako River mouth…mining is in the Mazaruni River not in Kako. The fact that you have mining in and around the area, there is no reason to associate death to mining activity,” Dr Boyle said.

She stated that when the child died and his brother fell ill, the community became alarmed and 39 children were taken to the village of Karamarang for treatment after they started experiencing a running nose and cough.

“The community health worker thought it best to get children from Kako to Kamarang where two doctors are stationed…even though they were not advised by the Doctor to do so, but Doctors evaluated and found that of 39 children, five had elevated temperatures, and most others had a common cold and cough.”

“None of them had symptoms similar to the two brothers. They were all treated and sent back to their village,” Dr Norton added.

Investigations are ongoing.(Guyana Times)

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