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Mystery disease spreads to more Naga villages

A child shows symptoms of the mysterious illness that has killed dozens of people in the Naga Self-Administered Zone in northern Burma. (Photo: Thein Zaw / DVB)

The number of people who have died of a mysterious infectious disease in northern Burma’s Naga Self-Administered Zone has nearly doubled since the outbreak was first reported earlier this week.

According to the latest figures, a total of 34 people, mostly children, have died in eight villages in two townships. The number previously reported was 18 in just one village.

The disease, which has not yet been identified, started affecting people in the village of Htan Khaw Lanma in Lahe Township in early June.

Law Yone, an MP from Lahe Township, said that the disease has recently spread to Nanyun Township.

“According to the latest list, the disease has spread to three villages in Nanyun Townhip. Twenty-two people from the three villages have been infected. Twelve have passed away,” he said.

The affected villages are Htan Khaw Lanma, Htan Khaw Naut Kone, Khammalar, Lan Tine and Sheinba in Lahe Township and Kyir San Kar Lan, Kyir San Sar Lyin and Kyir San Bon Lone in Nanyun Township.

Each village has between 40 and 100 households, and all are difficult to reach because of poor road conditions, said Law Yone.

“It takes a total of three days — one by motorcycle and another two on foot — to get these villages from Lahe town,” he said, adding that he had notified the health authorities in Sagaing Division of the outbreak and that medical teams are on their way to the affected villages.

“Some doctors have already been there to take care of the patients. They have returned and now more doctors and medical officers are going,” he said.

The symptoms of the disease are rashes, sore eyes, coughing, diarrhea and vomiting blood. Of the 18 people reported dead in Htan Khaw Lanma, 13 were under the age of 12.

The Naga Self-Administered Zone, created in 2010 in accordance with Burma’s 2008 constitution, is one of the country’s poorest and least developed regions.