MYANMAR : PYAY : Pegu Division – The outbreak started on July 11, according to data from Pyay General Hospital. Despite precautionary measures, chlorination drives and education campaigns, the tide of patients has not been staunched.
From July 11 to July 25, more than 144 people have arrived at Pyay General Hospital with severe diarrhoea, according to health officials. As of yesterday, 37 patients were receiving antibiotic treatment for the infection.
“Five new patients came to the hospital on July 25. In total, all five had the symptoms of cholera,” said U Kyaw Zay Ya, a regional MP (NLD; Phyu 2).
One patient, who had kidney disease, has died in the outbreak.
A spokesperson from the Department of Public Health said that of seven samples sent for testing from Pyay, six came back positive for cholera.
“Since the first six patients had confirmed cases of cholera, the doctors assumed that is the cause of the outbreak. But they many not all be cholera patients,” the spokesperson, who asked not to be named, said.
Township officials have closed down food shops near to where the patients who came to the hospital live. Soil has also been heaped onto open, putrid water sources throughout the township.
The outbreak has centred on the suburbs of Pyay township, including Na Win and Yoar Bae wards, as well as Kone Thar Lin village tract and Mhawswar village tract.
Dr Than Htun Aung, deputy director general of the Department of Public Health, said that in one village, eight out of 10 wards have so far presented cases of severe diarrhoea.
“The disease is mainly caused by unsanitary water,” he said. “Because water resources such as lakes and ditches and also toilets are flooded right now, the disease could spread quickly.”
He added that, on average, “five or six new patients are arriving at the hospital with symptoms of severe diarrhea every day. The Department of Public Health and local administrators are trying to control the situation.”
“Currently, we can’t stop the disease spreading quickly and infecting more people. We are focusing on protection and prevention,” he said.
Officials have been dispatched throughout the township to proactively locate patients with severe diarrhoea and treat them with antibiotics, in hopes that it will stop the rampant spread.
“Though the responsible authorities are trying, public cooperation is needed to control the outbreak,” said Dr Than Htun Aung. “People should follow the public health department’s announcement and be careful about their hygiene.”
Cholera, a bacterial infection typically caused by drinking contaminated water, causes diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Infections are usually mild, but severe forms can lead to shock, extreme dehydration and, if left untreated, death, according to the US Centers for Disease Control.
Outbreaks are not uncommon in Myanmar, and typically occur toward the beginning or end of the rainy season, according to health officials.