Sunday, 17 November 2019

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Unidentified flu afflicts villagers in eastern Burma

Mizzima (Chiang Mai) - At least 500 villagers belonging to nine villages in Phapun district in Karen state in eastern Burma, bordering Thailand, are suffering from a new but as yet unidentified type of flu, according to the back-pack medical team, which visited the area and distributed medical supplies.

The strange disease, which began infecting villagers since last month, has spread among both adults and children, the team said.

“The disease has infected over 500 people both adults and children. While we have confirmed that it is flu, we are still unable to determine what type it is. We have sent samples to Mae Sod hospital in Thailand for diagnosis but we are yet to get the results,’ Manh Manh, Director of the Thailand-based back- pack medical team told Mizzima.

The Director said the symptoms of the flu resemble A(H1N1) as patients had running nose, cough and fever. Villagers have panicked, and have been closing down schools fearing that the flu will continue to spread.   

“Last year a similar problem occurred, but it did not spread so fast. We have closed schools from September 26 and 27,” Saw Win Kyaw, in-charge of the Phapun district back-pack team said.

The outbreak, notwithstanding, so far medical assistance to the villagers has not been provided by the authorities in Phapun town, which is about 32 miles from the village tracts. No roads exist for vehicles to ply. The only communication is by foot or by boat along the river.

According to Thiha Maung, Director of the Thailand-based National Health and Education Committee (NHEC), the villages in Phapun district, during this time of the year is cold and humid, and it helps the flu spread, particularly among vulnerable sections.

“We suggest whenever they cough or have a running nose handkerchiefs or tissue papers be used. Hands should be washed frequently. This should be adopted as a habit,” Dr. Thiha Maung said.

Manh Manh said medical experts from Mae Sod’s Mae Tao clinic plan to hold a medical education training programme for villagers in Phapun district to give them an idea of basic medical care.


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