By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Officials in Myanmar are reporting a diphtheria outbreak in eastern Shan State, according to a Thit Htoo Lwin report (computer translated).

Burma map
Myanmar Image/CIA

Since the end of July, 36 cases of diphtheria have been treated at Kengtung People’s Hospital and five have died, a spokesperson with the Kengtung People’s Hospital stated.

Diphtheria is a highly contagious bacterial disease that primarily infects the throat and upper airways, and produces a toxin affecting other organs. The disease has an acute onset and can result in low grade fever, difficulty in breathing, swollen glands in the neck and the toxin, in severe cases, may cause heart failure, paralysis, and even death. Transmission occurs from person to person through close respiratory and physical fluid contact. Diphtheria is fatal in 5-10% of the cases, with a high mortality rate in young children. Vaccinations are recommended for its prevention.

The diphtheria vaccine should be given as a child. Kengtung residents said that most people living in rural and underdeveloped areas had little knowledge about vaccination.