GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Dec 05 2016 – Health authorities are awaiting the outcome of tests done by the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) after an eight-year-old boy died and his 11-year-old sibling deemed to be “brain dead”.
Public Health Minister Dr. George Norton told the Guyana-based Demerara Waves online publication that health officials suspect that toxicity of a waterway in Region 7 (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) may have caused the death of a boy and the illness to his brother.
He said based on symptoms and an autopsy, medical experts have ruled out an infection such as meningitis but rather the possible consumption of water containing toxic chemicals.
“The symptoms that the boy has shown speak of a pathology of the brain but not necessarily an infection and the physician is saying that it can be because of some toxicity and she came to the idea that it is similar to that of cyanide. Now mining is going on in the area and we did not rule out that it could have been the utilization of contaminated water,” Dr. Norton told Demerara Waves.
Dr. Norton, who on Sunday led a high-level team of experts from the health sector and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) to ascertain the possible cause of the death and illness, said the cause of death is cerebral edema (swelling of the brain), malaria and haemorrhagic broncho-pneumonia.
Specimens have been taken and are to be sent to CARPHA for further testing.
Dr. Norton said that the boys had gone hunting two weeks ago and days after returning one of them complained of headache, neck pain, cough and fever.
The 11-year-old boy later presented mild symptoms and he was rushed to the hospital in the capital where he had told health workers that he did not want to die like his brother, Dr. Norton said.
The Public Health Minister said no other member of the boys’ immediate family has shown similar symptoms.