Sittwe vaccinates children against Japanese encephalitis
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.
Health staff vaccinate a child in Sittwe, Rakhine State.