Thanks to MedicalIntelligence for tweeting the link to this report in The Express Tribune: Mysterious disease: WHO, NIH help sought following 10 deaths in Bajaur. Excerpt:
Authorities have yet to determine what caused the mysterious deaths of at least 10 women from the same area of Bajaur Agency in the past week.
The Federally Administrated Tribal Area (Fata) Secretariat has asked World Health Organization (WHO) and National Institute of Health (NIH), Islamabad to help investigate.
Tribesmen from Warra Mamond tehsil of Bajaur Agency reported that at least 10 women who worked in grazing fields have died from what they believe is the same illness.
While talking to The Express Tribune, FATA Secretariat Director Health Services Dr Pervez Kamal Khan said five other women have been admitted to the Agency Headquarters Hospital in Khar and three in Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar.
Khalid Khan, a tribesman from Warra tehsil, said the victims were residents of Dabar, Baddan and Sroshaha.
“The deaths have spread fear and panic in the area and people have instructed their women and children not to visit the fields,” he said.
The affected women reportedly experienced similar symptoms, which started from pain in the upper part of the body and eventually led to bleeding from the mouth and nose. All victims died within a few hours of showing these symptoms.
Residents reported the deaths to health officials, who visited the area, the tribesman added.
Bajaur Agency Political Agent Syed Abdul Jabbar Shah confirmed the deaths and said he had directed the agency surgeon and agricultural experts to visit the area and conduct a thorough investigation.
Declaring an emergency at the Agency Headquarters Hospital, he asked the hospital administration to take special care of the women suspected to be suffering from the mysterious ailment.
Agency Surgeon Dr Zakir Husain, who has already visited the area, said an investigation was currently under way and experts have narrowed the cause of death to two possibilities.
“There could either be some poison in the area or the deaths were caused by a virus,” he said.
Dr Pervez Kamal said they have asked WHO and NIH to investigate the mysterious disease. He said they sent a team of doctors and agricultural experts to the area but have yet to ascertain what caused the women to fall so sick.
He said they have established medical camps in the affected areas to provide urgent treatment if any more people are affected, adding WHO teams will visit the areas now and send samples to NIH to ascertain the cause of deaths.
Interestingly, one of the doctors who visited the area, Dr Alam khan, told The Express Tribune on Friday that the victims who died were suffering from other diseases like diabetes and C.V.A (brain hemorrhage) among others.