By Stephen Frankel, Gilbert Lewis
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Additional resources for A Continuing Trial of Treatment: Medical Pluralism in Papua New Guinea
4 Dysentery Bacillary dysentery was another early introduction into New Guinea, frrst being officially reported in 1888 in Astrolabe Bay. It receives annual mention in New Guinea reports from that time on with serious epidemics in New Ireland in 1899 and 1908, and Manus Island in 1912, when an estimated 1200 deaths resulted. But no documentary evidence has so far been found for dysentery at Aitape until 1932. In that year a "serious outbreak" which moved inland at least as far as Kapoam village was apparently brought under control by a quarantine on all movements inland from July until September.
This three-year-old died after suffering a high fever. His uncle requested a photograph be taken of him in newly purchased funeral clothes. This is known from descriptions by old people of the villages of their childhood and from the written reports and oral accounts of officers who were responsible for bringing the area under colonial "control" in the 1920s. Less is known of the actual pattern of disease at this time. This is because village recall of the causes of deaths 40 BRYANT J. ALLEN which occurred seventy years ago is hazy and probably emphasizes the spectacular, and early outside observers were itinerant and infrequent.
It often is a mild disease and its symptoms are sometimes indistinct and easy to confuse with other mild infections. For these reasons influenza epidemics are not remembered as discrete events in Torricelli villages. Government reports, from both the German and Australian administrations, clearly recognize that influenza did spread inland from coastal stations, inland through "uncontrolled" areas and that the colonial medical services could do nothing to prevent it nor to assist those afflicted.
A Continuing Trial of Treatment: Medical Pluralism in Papua New Guinea by Stephen Frankel, Gilbert Lewis