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14 children die from pesticide on litchis

Sajia Afrin

Fourteen of the 15 children who had fallen sick in Dinajpur after eating or coming in contact with litchis on which the growers used chemical pesticides died this month.
The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research in a preliminary investigation said that poisoning caused by the pesticide was the reason for the death.
‘By examining the history of the children, we have confirmed that they died from pesticide poisoning,’ the IEDCR director, Mahmudur Rahman, told New Age on Tuesday.
The area the children were from has a huge number of litchi orchards and all of the children ate litchis from the garden or came in contact with the litchis after the use of pesticide, he said.
The institute collected blood and urine samples from the children who were still alive then for laboratory tests. ‘We may get the report on Thursday,’ he said.
‘Only one of all the tests required could be run in Bangladesh. So the samples will be sent abroad for tests to confirm which pesticide had caused their death,’ Mahmudur said.
IEDCR experts said that they had readied the samples to be sent to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta for tests.
The New Age correspondent in Dinajpur said that 15 children were sent to Dinajpur Medical College Hospital unconscious with complaints of high temperature and convulsion, Waresh Ali Sarkar, a child specialist at the hospital, said.
All the children aged between two and six years were admitted to the hospital in June 1–12, he said. ‘Thirteen of them died one to two hours after their admission.’
The deceased were Nibha of Dhainur at Pirganj in Thakurgoan, Saila of Maheshpur, Nur Kibria of Rampur, Sagar of Krishnapur, Manik of Madhabbati, Tasmina of Runia and Sujan of Jasoral at Birol in Dinajpur, Nagris of Chirirbandar in Dinajpur, Borhan of Sundarban, Nayan of Pargoan and Dhananjoy of Ekrarpur in the district headquarters, and Azizul of Chawk Kanchanpur and Ripon of Ramnagar at Khansama in Dinajpur
Mahmudur on Tuesday confirmed that another of the ailing children died on Monday night.
Waresh Ali said that they informed the IEDCR of the matter on June 17 after they had failed to detect the disease.
IEDCR experts then collected the samples from the children on June 18, he said.
The experts said that a similar incidents of pesticide poisoning from fruit also took place in Naogaon in 2008 and at Dhamrai in Dhaka in 2009.
The health experts said that pesticide poisoning could affect any human being but as the children have less resistance and immunity, they get affected most. It all depends on the dose of pesticides, they said.
The health services director general, Khandaker M Shifayetullah, said that the children died from the chemical pesticide used on the litchis. ‘The people who used chemicals on litchis should be punished as they killed the children. It is very unfortunate..’
Shifayetullah said that they would take steps to create awareness of the use of chemical pesticide with the help of the Department of Agricultural Extension soon.
Mahmudur said that they would ask growers not use the pesticide on fruit after they would get the pesticide identified in lab tests.

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