MYANMAR: Kayin State – An outbreak of Japanese encephalitis has killed three out of 17 patients in four townships.
Hpa-an, Kawkareik, Hlaignbwe and Hpapun townships were affected. Japanese encephalitis was common in rural areas, said Dr Tun Min, health officer at the Kayin Public Health Department.
“The disease is transmitted by mosquitoes in the paddy plantations. Human are also infected through cattle and birds,” said Tun Min.
Encephalitis inflames the central nervous system and disrupts normal functions.
In 2014, 319 out of 18,690 child patients at the Yangon Paediatric Hospital were infected with different types of encephalitis, of whom 26 died.
“We reported the outbreak of the disease to the Kayin State government and also instructed hospitals and clinics to take blood samples of suspected patients. Rural doctors are now conducting educational talks on preventive measures against the disease in cooperation with volunteers, medical staff and NGOs,” the medic said.
“A plan is underway to vaccinate against Japanese encephalitis nationally next year,” said Tun Min.
The disease was first detected in Laukkai and Hopang townships of the Chinese border in July. An estimated 13 patients out of 35 suspects have been reported in northern Shan State. Three of them died. The Public Health Department said it was currently planning to vaccinate against the disease.
Myanmar is contributing to the Southeast Asia Encephalitis Project on communicable encephalitis to tackle the disease in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.