DYSENTERY has claimed the lives of two children in the Nondugl area of North Waghi district in Western Highlands province.
But fear and a wave of panic shook the district when rumours spread that it was cholera that had caused the two to die and many others to fall ill.
This has caused health workers to carry out awareness on the water- borne disease.
John Bena, officer in-charge at Nondugul Health Centre, confirmed that 12 patients had been diagnosed with dysentery and food poisoning and not cholera, at the Nondugl health centre and Kudjip Nazarene Hospital last week.
According to Mr Bena, these patients had suffered from abdominal pains, continuous diarrhoea with blood, and other symptoms related to dysentery.
Of these, he said two children, both boys, died from dehydration, while the rest were given treatment and discharged from the hospital.
He said the first child, a three-year-old, died on Oct 16 at the Nondugl health centre, while the other, a two-year-old, died on Oct 18 after being discharged from the Kudjip hospital.
He also said many adult patients were also struck by dysentery and received treatment.
He said the dysentery outbreak had caused people to panic because they thought it was cholera.
However, Mr Bena said this situation was now under control because of the cholera awareness which was carried out in the district.
The awareness campaign, which began last Monday, was aimed at educating people on the symptoms and trends of cholera, and how it could be spread.
He urged people to take precaution and practise healthy habits.
He also said people should stop spreading rumours that could cause panic among the people.