Dengue Fever Outbreak Claims 8 Lives in Yangon

By Thazin Hlaing 12 June 2017

YANGON — Yangon Division is experiencing the most fatal dengue fever outbreak since 2010, according to the division’s public health department.

So far this year, 1,477 dengue cases have been recorded in the division—of which eight were fatal.

“There are more urban areas [than rural areas] in Yangon Division. And fatality is higher in urban areas,” said Dr. Khin Nan Lone of the public health department at its press conference on dengue on Saturday.

“There is no cure for the disease, so it is important that the patient is sent to the hospital in time. The disease can be fatal in one in every 100 infected, even if they are sent to the hospital in time,” she added.

In 2010, 906 cases were recorded in Yangon Division; six were fatal. In 2011, 102 cases were recorded; 117 cases in 2012; 1,014 cases, including five fatal cases, in 2013; 456 cases, including three fatal cases, in 2014; 968 cases, including six fatal cases, in 2015; and 280 cases in 2016, of which four were fatal.

“Mosquitoes have bred a lot this year. Now, there is no place in the country where dengue fever does not break out,” said Dr. Khin Nan Lone, referring to Chin State, which only reported two cases last year.

The government usually conducts spraying campaigns in residential wards during the rainy season in urban areas, but community-level efforts are critical to preventing the disease as mosquitoes breed in clear water, she said.

“Mosquito spray only lasts for an hour, and mosquitoes are now resistant to spray. Some countries no longer use spray as at it can cause breathing problems,” she added.

Yellow fever mosquitoes—aedes aegypti­—are mainly responsible for dengue fever, which tends to be found in places where there is a large population, standing water, and poor sanitation.

The disease includes common symptoms such as a few days of fever, headache, muscle pain and joint pain, and sometimes a rash. Children are more vulnerable to the disease.

Dr. Win Lwin, head of the division’s public health department, urged ward authorities to encourage residents to clear the bushes and ponds that collect rainwater in their wards.

“The best prevention is to get rid of them at the larval stage,” he stressed.

According to figures from the public health department, the outbreak has been highest in the heavily populated Hlinetharyar Township, with more than 200 cases this year, followed by South Dagon, Dala, East Dagon, and Twante, with about 100 cases each.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.