Villagers say they can't sell their dairy
products now because of the contamination..
Some 200 residents of the village of Fantan,
about 40 kilometers north of Yerevan have become
ill from a disease transmitted by drinking water.
Six are in serious condition and are being treated
in infectious hospitals in Yerevan and Charentsavan.
The outbreak began in late March, but it was
not until a month later that doctors in the Koytak
region alerted the Ministry of Healthcare. About
1,100 people live in Fantan.
"Three members of my family are in serious
condition," says 63 year old Margo Hovhanisyan.
"We sold everything to buy medicines and
then we realized that it was a completely different
Doctors say the disease is tularemia, an ailment
that effects the digestive system.
"Tularemia is a disease that is transmitted
to people from animals, mainly from gnawing animals
such as field and home mice, water rats,"
explains deputy head of the State Anti-epidemic
Sanitary Department Ghazaros Hakobyan. "Our
researches showed that drinking water became the
cause of outbreak in Fantan village."
The specialist says germs of tularemia were detected
in drinking water and in samples taken from mice
Three members of Margo Hovhanisyan's family
"Today we can certainly say that the cause
of the epidemic's outbreak and spread was drinking
water flowing down to Fantan from Gutana Mountain.
Numerous mouse holes were found near the source
of that water," says Hakobyan. "Most
likely, bodies of field mice infected with tularemia
were in the water reservoir and they became the
cause of the disease."
Medical specialists say that local authorities
must bear responsibility for the incident as they
should have provided sterility and safety of the
drinking water's supply, cleaning the acquaduct
from time to time.
Water reaches Fantan via deep troughs. Villagers
say they don't remember when the troughs were
One villager says the outbreak started soon after
pumps that kept water moving through the system
were shut off due to unpaid electricity bills.
Head of Fantan village Valeri Ivanyan assures
that he, himself, cleaned the water containers
and that it was not possible there could be an
infection like that there.
Khachik has been sick for 40 days..
"I wrote a letter to the Prime Minister
asking him to help villagers," says Ivanyan.
"Villages living in such difficult social
conditions cannot pay 288,000 drams (about $500)
monthly for getting water using pump technology
and as a result of that we had to use naturally
flowing water of Gutana Mountain. It is incomparably
cheaper. Maybe they will help us?"
But before expecting help to come the situation
remains strained in Fantan.
"My son is very seriously sick," says
Zoya Barseghyan, looking at her 24-year old son
Khachik. "We took him to Yerevan, however,
40 days have passed but nothing changed. Now we
have only debts and hopeless days to spend."
Specialists of the Ministry of Healthcare assure
that tularemia can be cured in 10 days with the
help of antibiotics. But if the treatment fails,
a patient could experience serious disorders in
kidneys, liver and lymph glands.
"It will take 15 days to find out if the
epidemic has died away. In any case all measures
are undertaken for avoiding repeating such incidents
in the future," says Hakobyan.
Valeri Ivanyan says he personally cleaned
the water ducts.
Hakobyan says villagers have been vaccinated,
that water purification tablets have been distributed
and that water is now being trucked in to Fantan.
But one villager says the water is no longer
"It's the third day there is no water,"
says villager Zina. "For the first two days
they had been bringing water by cars then they
forgot about it and now each family is carrying
water on foot from dawn to dusk from Charentsavan,
which is located three kilometers away from the
village. So, it's not clear yet what will be with
people, who will answer for this is unclear as
Head of the village assure that everything can
be supervised and in the nearest future the village
will return to its normal life.
However, villagers unanimously agree that the
village has been discredited as a result of tularemia.
"All those who are not from our village,
avoid meeting us; they say that all of us are
infected," they say. "And today we have
two problems. First one is water and the second
one is that we can sell neither milk, nor matsun
(yogurt). We aren't even treated normal by other
people. When we say we are from Fantan village,
everybody close their doors."