Dengue Cases Spike in Irrawaddy Division

By Salai Thant Zin 1 July 2015

PATHEIN, Irrawaddy Division — Hemorrhagic dengue fever, the second most deadly mosquito-borne illness in Burma after malaria, is hitting townships in Irrawaddy Division particularly hard as the monsoon season ramps up, according to the regional health department.

“This year, dengue fever prevalence is greater than the previous year,” Dr. Aung Kyi Swe, director of the Irrawaddy Division Health Department, told The Irrawaddy.

“At present, we are educating about it in Kyonepyaw, Hinthada, Myaungmya, Pyapon and Laymyetnar townships, where dengue fever prevalence is high. We are also giving medical treatment and spraying larvicide in cooperation with health staff on the ground,” he said.

The region recorded a spike in dengue cases last month; in May, 634 people caught dengue fever in Irrawaddy Division and June saw almost double the number of patients. According to the regional Health Department, three people have died from the disease and more than 1,000 caught dengue fever in June in Irrawaddy Division—among the largest figures for June in all of Burma.

“Hinthada Hospital is even short of beds for patients infected with dengue fever. Children aged between 3 and 16, most of them from rural areas, are prone to it,” said Thein Zaw Myint, an activist from the Hinthada-based Human Rights Defenders and Promoters (HRDP).

At present, 31 patients are receiving medical treatment for dengue fever at Pathein Hospital, said Tin Maung Nyunt, medical superintendent of the hospital.

“Most of them are from Kangyidaunt and Pathein,” he added. “Some patients are aged between 3 and 8 and some patients are adults. But none of them are in critical condition.”

The Health Ministry has urged members of the public to get a check-up at the nearest clinic or hospital if they suspect they might have dengue fever.

“Parents tend to buy over-the-counter drugs at pharmacies if their children are ill. It is very dangerous. If the pharmacy gives aspirin and the child is infected with dengue fever, he may suffer bleeding in the stomach and intestines, which can ultimately lead to death,” said Tin Maung Nyunt.

From January to June across Burma, more than 10,000 people have contracted dengue fever and 45 people died as a result, according to the Health Ministry.

Mon State has suffered the most dengue fever cases, the ministry said, with 2,182 cases reported. Through June, Irrawaddy Division also saw more than 2,000 cases.

Rangoon Division recorded more than 1,500 patients, and the division suffered from the highest mortality rate, with 11 people having died from dengue fever.