Sit­twe vac­ci­nates children against Ja­panese en­cephali­tis

The Myanmar Times - - News - YE YWEL MYINT news­room@mm­times.com

HEALTH of­fi­cials in Sit­twe are in­oc­u­lat­ing tens of thou­sands of children aged from nine months to 15 years amid an out­break of Ja­panese en­cephali­tis.

Doc­tors are call­ing on fam­i­lies to vac­ci­nate their children against the deadly virus be­fore the drive ends on Septem­ber 26.

“We in­tend to in­oc­u­late more than 80,000 children from Sit­twe town­ship over the course of 10 days. We con­sider Sit­twe a pri­or­ity area for vac­ci­na­tion be­cause the virus has widely oc­curred here. We will in­oc­u­late children in other town­ships next year,” said Dr Kyi Kyi Thar, head of the town­ship De­part­ment of Public Health in Sit­twe.

Ja­panese en­cephali­tis is caused by a virus trans­mit­ted to hu­mans by mos­qui­toes which breed in wa­ter pools and flooded rice fields, and pick up the virus from pigs and wa­ter birds. The dis­ease does not spread from per­son to per­son.

So far this year, 45 cases of Ja­panese en­cephali­tis in children have been re­ported in Rakhine State, re­sult­ing in six deaths. Cases have been re­ported in four of the state’s town­ships – Sit­twe, Pon­nagyun, Pauk­taw and Kyauk­taw. How­ever, the vac­cine drive will take place only in Sit­twe as the health de­part­ment does not have enough jabs to go around, and the state cap­i­tal has the high­est pop­u­la­tion den­sity, ac­cord­ing to Dr Thaung Hlaing, chief of­fi­cer of public health in Rakhine.

The health de­part­ment has set aside 33,000 vac­ci­na­tions for mi­nors in IDP camps in Sit­twe.

Most in­fected peo­ple show no symp­toms, but among those who do ex­pe­ri­ence symp­toms, the dis­ease can be se­ri­ous, with fever, neck stiff­ness, seizures and coma. The dis­ease can prove fa­tal if left un­treated. About one in four vic­tims dies and up to 50 per­cent of sur­vivors may be left with a per­ma­nent dis­abil­ity such as paral­y­sis, deaf­ness and in­tel­lec­tual im­pair­ment.

“In 2016, five of the seven children who con­tracted Ja­panese en­cephali­tis in Sit­twe have been dis­charged from hos­pi­tal but have not re­gained their abil­ity to speak,” Dr Kyi Kyi Thar said.

Rakhine State’s De­part­ment of Public Health urged the public to co­op­er­ate with med­i­cal of­fi­cers ad­min­is­ter­ing the vac­cines and to abide by public health ed­u­ca­tion tips.

Any oc­cur­rence of the dis­ease in hu­mans as well as any deaths or dis­ease in do­mes­tic pigs should be re­ported to the rel­e­vant of­fi­cials as early as pos­si­ble.

Photo: Ye Ywel Myint

Health staff vac­ci­nate a child in Sit­twe, Rakhine State.

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