PATHEIN, Irrawaddy Division — Twenty people have died of dengue fever so far since January this year in Irrawaddy Division, according to the divisional health department.
“Dengue incidence is highest in Hinthada District, followed by Maubin and Pathein districts respectively,” said Dr. Myat Min Htun, head of the epidemic division under the divisional health department.
Dengue cases have doubled in the division from the previous year – 1,679 cases from January 1 to July 10 compared to about 800 cases in total the prior year.
Most of the victims are children under 15, who die from internal hemorrhaging and a delay in hospitalization, according to the health department.
The disease has killed four people in Wakema Township, the highest death rate among townships in the division.
Dengue incidence was low between January and May, but an outbreak occurred in June that has continued into July. In June, the 500-bed Pathein Hospital received 139 dengue patients and three children died.
“In the children’s ward of Pathein Hospital, there are too many dengue patients now that we are short of space. We’ve had to put newcomers in other wards,” said a doctor from Pathein Hospital.
There tends to be a dengue epidemic every two to three years, said Dr. Myat Min Htun of the divisional health department, adding that Irrawaddy Division saw the deadliest dengue outbreak in its history in 2015, when more than 6,000 people were infected and 49 died.
“We have initiated prevention and awareness campaigns this year but our health department alone can’t prevent this disease. Public participation is critical and people need to be mindful of water sources where mosquitos may breed,” said Dr. Myat Min Htun.
Yellow fever mosquitos – known as aedes aegypti – are primarily responsible for dengue fever, and breed in still water and areas with poor sanitation.
The disease’s common symptoms include a few days of fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, and possibly a rash. Children are more vulnerable to the disease.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.