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More than 100 children in Myanmar die of dengue fever this year

More than 100 children in Myanmar die of dengue fever this year

Dengue fever has killed 108 children in Myanmar since the beginning of this year, a government health official said Wednesday, further indication that Southeast Asia is facing its worst outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus in almost a decade.
"Since January, there have been more than 8,000 cases of dengue fever in the country and altogether 108 children, aged between 3 to 7, have died as of Saturday," Dr. Kyaw Nyunt Sein, deputy director of the health department told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
He said no adults had died so far.
Myanmar recorded 130 fatalities from dengue in the whole of 2006, according to Health Ministry figures.
The disease has flared across the region from ultramodern Singapore to poor Vietnam in recent months.
Sometimes called the "bone breaker" illness because of the excruciating joint pain it causes, it has neither a cure nor a vaccine.
As in other countries hard hit by the disease, such as Cambodia and Indonesia, sick children are straining the capacity of public health facilities.
A doctor at Yangon's Children's Hospital said that overcrowding there had forced many children to sleep on benches along its corridors. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he could be punished for his critical remark.
Dengue fever is a serious infectious disease transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. Symptoms of the sometimes fatal disease include fever, headaches, joint pain and rashes.
The disease is not nearly as lethal as malaria, which kills more than 1 million people annually. But the U.N.'s World Health Organization estimates dengue infects up to 50 million people every year worldwide, mostly in Asia and Latin America. About a half million of those cases are severe, and some 19,000 deaths were recorded in 2002.
Last year, Myanmar recorded 11,049 cases of dengue fever, including 130 fatal ones. The last major dengue fever outbreak in Myanmar occurred in 2001, and the number of cases declined in 2003-04 according to the disease's predictable cycle.
The last major outbreak to hit Southeast Asia was in 1998, when about 350,000 cases were reported in the region, including nearly 1,500 deaths. Indonesia and Thailand were not included in that tally.
John Ehrenberg, WHO's regional adviser on vector borne diseases, said it could potentially reach that level again this year.


Updated : 2021-10-21 11:02 GMT+08:00