After three H1N1 flu cases were confirmed at a refugee camp along the Thai-Myanmar border last week, the area has been under quarantine with entries and exits temporarily suspended, according to officials at the camp.
The Karen Refugee Committee send the restriction at the Mae La Ma Luang Camp is effective for 15 days starting from August 23, when the “swine flu” cases were confirmed.
Health authorities in Thailand’s Mae Hong Son Province were informed about the outbreak after a laboratory in Chiang Mai confirmed the test samples.
“The Thai authorities have blocked the road after hearing that this flu spread from Mae Sot and Mae Ramat via Myanmar. They won’t allow anyone from Mae Sot or Myanmar to enter this camp. It will be blocked for 15 days,” Saw Tu Tu, head of the KRC’s northern area, told Karen News on August 28.
According to medical records kept by Malteser International, an NGO that has been providing healthcare at the camp, two out of the three confirmed H1N1 patients are children, while the other is a teenager. Twelve other suspected H1N1 cases have also been reported. There have been no related deaths, and some of the patients have already recovered.
Officials from Malteser International said it is believed that the H1N1 virus spread from Myanmar, where an outbreak of the seasonal influenza strain was detected mid-July, Myanmar’s outbreak has led to 35 deaths as of August 27, according to state media reports.
Officials at the Mae La Ma Luang refugee camp are trying to prevent further spread of the virus by cleaning the camp and promoting hygiene.
Mae Ra Ma Luang is the only one of the nine border refugee camps to have confirmed H1N1 cases.
H1N1, or “swine flu”, is a variety of the seasonal virus and has been around since 2009. In most cases, the infection is not severe, and requires only rest, and symptom relief. Symptoms of H1N1 can include a high fever over 38 degrees Celsius, a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, body aches, headache and fatigue. To avoid spreading or contracting the disease, the World Health Organization advises frequent handwashing.