At least 12 people have died in a cholera outbreak in the southern Karen State town of Kyainseikgyi in the past the two months, according to the Backpack Health Worker Team.
Saw De De, a medic working with the Backpack mobile clinic, said outbreaks of cholera and dysentery have hit some 50 villages in the area, as well as some areas in neighbouring Kawkareit Township.
“Most of the patients who succumbed to cholera were elderly people, although a few aged 30 to 40 died too, as well as a 13-year-old,” he said, adding that the Backpack team is working with other health NGOs to contain the spread of the disease, assumed to have been caused by polluted water sources.
“We are working with the Burma Medical Association, the Karen Department of Health and Welfare, and Free Burma Rangers to treat patients and hand out chlorine to decontaminate the water,” he said.
According to NGO health workers in the area, around 200 people were infected when the outbreak started, but the rate of infection has slowed down in October.
One relief team member from NGO Partners said that many villagers resisted having chlorine in their water at first, because of the strong smell.
“So we had to explain to them that it was to prevent the spread of bacteria and disease,” he said. “We distributed mosquito nets as well. We also went to the local school and taught the children about personal hygiene and health education.”