Proac­tive mea­sures fail­ing to stem cholera out­break in Pyay

The Myanmar Times - - News - My­in­tkaythi@mm­times.com MYINT KAY THI

OF­FI­CIALS are try­ing to con­trol an out­break of cholera in Pyay town­ship, Bago Re­gion.

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.

Photo: AFP

A woman washes her face as she leans out from a win­dow of her house in Yan­gon on Novem­ber 7, 2015.

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