Naypyidaw plague and dengue outbreaks infect troops, children
10 July 2010
Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Outbreaks of plague and dengue fever are spreading through military units in Naypyidaw, the Burmese military regime’s seat of government, according to a military hospital source.
Infected soldiers were admitted to the new 1,000-bed military hospital in Naypyidaw for treatment. Moreover diarrhoea and dengue fever is spreading among residents in the capital’s neighbouring township of Pyinmana, home to 100,000 people.
“Children under-12 [of soldiers] in these Naypyidaw military units infected with dengue fever and plague were admitted to the children’s hospital and the troops infected with dengue and plague and their children over 12 were admitted here,” an officer from the military hospital, who requested anonymity, told Mizzima.
He declined to give further details on the scale of the epidemic.
According to official government figures released last year, Naypyidaw, meaning Royal City, is the third largest city in Burma, with a population of 925,000.
The outbreaks emerge after hundreds of thousands of rodents were reported late last month migrating from their current habitats.
“Mice are moving ‘in their thousands’ away from lakes and reservoirs in central Burma’s Bago and Mandalay divisions and towards urban areas. One man reported seeing fleets of mice on the Mandalay-to-Naypyidaw highway,” an exile media outlet reported on June 30.
In a sign of unusual openness by the junta, Ministry of Health plague warnings were seen in state-run papers on July 1 and 2.
The warning said: “Sudden death of mice may be because of plague. The people are advised to report and send the dead mice suspected of being infected with plague to the nearest health department”.
However, Dr. Khin Aye Myint from the Social Welfare dispensary in Pyinmana disagreed with any contact with the mice and offered a safer solution.
“The Health Department should instigate a public awareness campaign on plague and dead mice. If suspected, the dead mice should be poured with petrol and burned or should be reported to health department,” Dr. Khin Aye Myint said.
Reuters news agency reported on Wednesday that the Burmese Ministry of Health had also circulated a warning among government departments about rat-borne plague after finding infected dead rodents near a government office in Naypyidaw, an official said.
Moreover residents of Yauktharinn, Kanoo, Yanaung (2) and Shwechi wards in Pyinmana said that diarrhoea and dengue fever were spreading in their locality.
Previously it infected children aged between 5 and 12 but elderly people were now also being infected.
“Some dengue fever patients visited nearby clinics and could recover within one or two days. Some of them were referred to hospitals. There are also many patients suffering from diarrhoea,” a brokerage owner in Yaukthuarinn Ward told Mizzima.
The virus that causes dengue fever is carried by mosquitoes.
Wet, humid weather during the monsoon has encouraged breeding of mosquito larvae in drains, ponds and garbage dumps, which encouraged the breeding of flies and mosquitos and the subsequent spreading of the bacterias that cause diarrhoea through contaminated foods and the virus that causes dengue, Dr. Khin Myint Aye said.
Dengue spreads because of our inability to fight the mosquito menace, he said.
Dengue outbreaks are not rare in Burma. Ministry of Health announced that 910 people were infected with dengue during the January-May period and six those died from this disease that is also known as break-bone fever because of severe pain in the bones and joints that often characterises infection.
At least 80 people were infected in Rangoon in the last week of June, Mizzima reported on July 1.
According to official statistics, 3,129 Burmese people were infected with dengue last year and 37 died.