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Funds Now Flowing to Karangasem Epidemic Victims

700 Victims Stricken with Gastrointestinal Illness Now Blamed for at Least 7 Deaths in East Bali.

Bali News:
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As reported on a widespread epidemic of gastrointestinal illness has struck Bali's eastern regency of Karangasem causing more than 600 people to seek medical treatment and is now blamed for at least 7 deaths. [See: Gastrointestinal Epidemic Hits Bali's Eastern Province]

The ailment, known locally as "Muntaber," is characterized by vomiting, dehydration and acute diarrhea and was first noticed by health officials on March 19th when a steady stream of patients began reporting to area hospitals and community health clinics.

As the health crisis enters its fifth week, help is beginning to stream in with Rp. 1 billion (US$108,700) in cash being funded by the provincial government of Bali together with substantial other cash donations from banks, state-owned enterprises and private companies permitting the regional government of Krangasem to open "command posts" at various locations to help stem the spread of the disease.

A spokesman for the Karangsem government. Komang Agus Sukasena, told the press that special "Command Posts for the Control of Natural Disasters and Refugees (Satlak PBP)" could only be set up on the 20th day of the epidemic due to the earlier preoccupation of medical and public health officials in handling the sick.

The latest estimate of those affected by the disease as of Wednesday, March 19, 2008, is that the number of ill has increased to 700 with, depending on the source, between 6 and 7 deaths now linked to the outbreak. Officials admit more deaths may have occurred with families quickly burying their dead before health officials could examine the remains of the dead to determine a possible link with the epidemic.

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