Myanmar officials say 3 die of swine flu

(The Associated Press via Yangon, Myanmar – Health officials in Myanmar say the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu, has killed three people out of 13 confirmed cases this month.

A Yangon General Hospital doctor, Khin Theingi Myint, said yesterday (July 25) that two infected patients died after being admitted to his hospital and one died earlier this month in Chin state in western Myanmar, where 11 of the infections were found.

The Health Ministry first confirmed the batch of cases on Monday.

The infections are from the type of H1N1 virus that was first identified in Mexico in 2009, which caused an outbreak that killed several thousand people worldwide. It is usually caused by exposure to infected pigs and is now treated as a seasonal flu rather than a major health threat, because it generally causes fatalities only among people with underlying health problems.

The virus also was found in Myanmar during the 2009-2010 outbreak.

Confirmation of the new cases has been widely discussed on social media. Since Monday, more people than usual have been wearing surgical masks in crowded areas of Yangon, the country’s commercial capital, even as the government has warned against panicking.

Meanwhile said while the outbreak is not entirely new, decades of living under a military regime suspected of playing down disease outbreaks and other bad news has made the population skeptical of government announcements on such matters.

The World Health Organization, which is providing assistance to the government, has yet to release a statement. However, Than Tun Aung, deputy director general at the ministry’s infectious diseases department, told Reuters that the authorities had no vaccines for the virus and was struggling to treat those infected.

“The treatments have very little effect on the patients who are infected with H1N1,” he said.


Top: A street vendor sells masks to motorists to protect against the swine flu yesterday, July 25, in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo: Thein Zaw /AP via





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