Two Dead, Hundreds of Children Sick: Measles Breaks Out in KNU Territory

 Local backpack medical teams are the primary healthcare providers in Mutraw, which has no government-supported clinics or hospitals.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Two children have died and 300 more are suffering from an outbreak of measles in Karen State’s Mutraw District, according to health workers from a local backpack medical team, which serves communities in the area.

Backpack medic Saw Poe Aye said that since the end of August, the virus has spread to more than 10 villages in Butho and Dwelo Townships in Mutraw, which is known in Burmese as Hpapun District. The area is under the control of the Karen National Union’s (KNU) Brigade 5.

“Some children have recovered, but most of the [sick] children are still suffering from this virus,” he told NMG.

According to Saw Poe Aye, one child has lost his eyesight as a result of the measles virus.

Those who are sick range from newborn infants to children under age 12. Their symptoms include high fevers, cough and throat pain, red eyes, bloody diarrhea, vomiting and aches.

“The virus can spread through the air,” another medic pointed out. “The children need supplementary nutrition. They need resistance to protect them from the virus. We also need medicine.”

The backpack health workers and the KNU’s medics are the primary health workers providing assistance in the area, which has no government-supported health centers, clinics, or hospitals. The Shoklo Malaria Research Unit, Community Partners International, and the Thai-Burma border-based Mae Tao Clinic have been providing medication, but more is still needed, health workers say.

Last year, there was another measles outbreak in Mutraw, but those providing healthcare say this year’s cases are worse.

The conflict-affected area has also experienced clashes between the Burma Army and Karen forces.