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AH1N1 virus hits Thailand refugee camp

Aug 14, 2009 (DVB), Four Burmese children living in a refugee camp close to the Thai-Burma border have been infected with the AH1N1 virus, according to a medical aid group working in the area.

According to Saw Nay Hser, chief of the Mae La camp hospital run by Aide Medical International (AMI), a three-old-girl was first confirmed with the virus on 2 August.

"She was showing symptoms such as coughing, sneezing and a high body temperature but we didn't think she was infected with the AH1N1 virus," he said.

Following tests by another medical group, the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit, the girl was confirmed as the first to be infected in the camp.

Risk of the virus spreading in the camp is high, particularly so given the close proximity to one another that people live.

Since the first case was diagnosed, another three have been confirmed, all of whom are close neighbours of the girl.

"On the same day we had the test results, I went to the children's house with other medical workers," said Saw Nay Hser.

"They were not doing too badly apart from some coughing and sneezing. We are giving them treatments at their homes."

He added that the families of the children infected with the virus have been advised not to go outside while neighbours were told not to go visit them. One of the children apparently had visited someone outside of the camp with her family before she fell ill.

About 50,000 Burmese refugees live in Mae La camp, and many are said to be worried that they will also catch the disease.

The camp's authorities say they are doing as much as they can to distribute medicine and educate people about the disease. Tests are still being conducted to find out exactly how many people have been infected.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), so far 1462 people worldwide have died from AH1N1, with 177457 cases reported, although it warns that this figure is likely to be below the actual amount.

Reporting by Naw Noreen