At least four children died from an unknown disease in Tripura Para of Hathazari upazila, while another 19 have been hospitalised, in a span of six days.
The incident comes after something similar occurred in Sitakundu upazila's Tripura Para around one year ago.
The disease was said to have broken out in the area on Tuesday leaving one dead that very day.
Dr Abu Sayed Mohammed Imtiaz, health officer of Hathazari upazila, told The Daily Star that one child died on Tuesday after suffering from a fever, cold and rash. Two died on Thursday, and another died yesterday, suffering from the same symptoms.
Doctors said the victims were aged around six to seven.
“We visited Tripura Para yesterday. It's a remote area around 30 kilometers away from Hathazari municipality. We brought 19 children, suffering from the same symptoms, and hospitalised them at Hathazari Upazila Health Complex,” Dr Imtiaz said.
He added that malnutrition was prevalent among the children who were suffering from the symptoms of the disease.
“We are collecting samples for tests. As far as we can guess, it could be a viral disease. But it can only be confirmed through tests,” he added.
Dr Imtiaz also mentioned that Tripura Para was under their vaccination coverage.
Contacted, Azizur Rahman Siddiqui, civil surgeon of Chittagong, told The Daily Star that a team would arrive from the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) to find what went wrong with the children.
“We are collecting samples of blood, cough and stool for the tests which will be conducted by experts from IEDCR. We hope we will be able to detect the disease,” he added.
He also said those admitted at the upazila health complex will be referred to Chittagong Medical College Hospital if their conditions deteriorate.
When asked if there is a lack of awareness among the locals in Hathazari's Tripura Para regarding vaccination, he said that they took every initiative possible to raise awareness.
“Not only that, we even ensured that they take mainstream medication if anyone suffers from an illness,” he said, adding that some superstition still exists among them regarding allopathic medicines.
Aktarunnesa Sheuly, Hathazari's upazila nirbahi officer, told The Daily Star they formed a monitoring cell to observe the situation at Tripura Para and that all necessary steps were taken to ensure that no further deaths occur.
In July 2017, at least nine children died and 48 were hospitalised in Tripura Para of Sitakunda upazila suffering from cold, fever, blood in the stool and convulsions.
The then health administration blamed the locals' superstitions against vaccination and their apathy towards conventional medicine. The administration then launched awareness programmes at the time to avert the recurrence of such incidents.