An infection with measles-like symptoms has killed over 30 children in a remote region of Myanmar, with locals blaming the government for slow response. Health experts are still working on identifying the disease.
The illness targets both adults and children, but appears to be especially deadly to children under five, Naga regional deputy Law Yon said on Thursday.
"Altogether 23 children were have been killed in Lahal township and 13 killed in Nan Yon township since June because of this unknown disease," Law told the AFP news agency.
"Rashes came out on their bodies, they have a fever and difficulty breathing because of coughing. Blood also comes out while coughing," he added.
Some 200 people have been infected in total.
The outbreak emerged in the northern Sagaing region of Myanmar, which is a remote and mountainous area near the Indian border.
No money for health care
Several officials said central authorities have been slow to react.
"We have this problem since two months ago and we haven't received any help from the government yet," said local administrator Kay Sai.
The local authorities have temporarily banned travel in the area to prevent the disease from spreading.
A health ministry official in the capital Naypyidaw confirmed the outbreak and said tests were underway.
"We assume at an initial stage it's a measles outbreak or strong influenza. But we can definitely say only when we get the result from laboratory," the official told AFP, requesting anonymity.
For decades, a military junta has ruled Myanmar and the army still wields considerable power, despite November elections that cleared the wave for a newly formed civilian government.
The Asian country spends very little on health care, a problem which has been exacerbated by a lack of infrastructure and health workers in Sagaing.
dj/kms (AFP, AP)