MYANMAR : Rakhine – The health authorities in Rakhine State are taking steps aimed at containing an outbreak of Japanese encephalitis which has claimed two lives this month, bringing the death toll since the start of July to 10.
The medical superintendent at Sittway General Hospital, Dr Soe Tun Aung, told Mizzima on August 13 that the number of reported cases of the disease stood at up 41, up from 26 during July.
Dr Soe Tun Aung said seven people remained hospitalised with the disease, which is spread by infected mosquitoes.
He said the steps being taken to prevent the outbreak from spreading included spraying insecticide in the state capital, Sittway, and in Kyauktaw, Minbya, Rathedaung, Ponnagyun, Taunggup and Pauktaw townships and repairing drains to prevent the accumulation of stagnant water in which mosquitoes breed.
Dr Soe Tun Aung said an unhealthy environment and a lack of awareness about the risks associated with mosquito bites had contributed to the outbreak.
Japanese encephalitis is a potentially fatal viral brain infection for which there is no cure and it mainly affects children aged between five and 13 .
Most people infected by the virus have either no symptoms or short-lived mild symptoms similar to influenza. In fewer than one case in every 250, the virus causes serious symptoms, such as seizures, confusion and paralysis.
Up to one in every three people who develop serious symptoms die and those who do survive may suffer permanent brain damage.
The disease can be prevented by vaccinations.