What’s in store for Burma?

As the death toll in the immediate aftermath of Cyclone Nargis becomes clear, new dangers loom. Complete breakdown in essential services and sanitation will conspire to kill thousands more via disease unless the world moves quickly (and maybe, even if we do).

Arthropod-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever are likely to flourish as standing water serves as breeding ground for mosquitoes. Malaria kills around a million people a year. Dengue is most often a disabling illness characterized by fever and severe pain, but in endemic areas it can lead to dengue hemorrhagic fever, a fatal illness resembling Ebola and Marburg viruses (but not as contagious).

Diseases related to lack of clean water, such as diarrhea, cholera, and hepatitis A can be especially nasty with little fresh water available for rehydration.

Tetanus, acquired from wounds, is a particularly grizzly death, and was seen frequently in victims of the Pakistan earthquake.

As bad as the initial death toll is (perhaps around 100K), it can get much worse quickly. Hopefully the world will respond as it did after the Great Tsunami, and hopefully the Burmese Junta won’t stand in the way. If they do, they may not have much left to rule over.

8 thoughts on “What’s in store for Burma?”

  1. They’re still dead set, I believe, on having an “election” this Saturday, as that was the day their astrologers chose.

  2. This is a terrible situation. According to Canadian news the military leadership has allowed some aid to trickle in now that China has urged them to accept the help. I think they’re holding firm on refusing help from the U.S. unless something has changed in the last few hours.

  3. Particularly bothersome about dengue is that once you’ve had the milder first infection, subsequent reinfections are quite likely to kill you from the hemorrhagic variant. Any gains they may have made in vector control can be wiped out given that so many of the population are already carrying antibodies.

  4. Found at Shakesville this morning: “It’s all tied to sovereignty, which we respect whether it’s on the ground or in the air.”–U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on why the U.S. won’t be airdropping any humanitarian aid to Myanmar anytime soon.

    Every single irony meter in the universe just exploded.

  5. Prepare yourself for the stupid – the June 2008 issue of Discover magazine has a lengthy article about Peter Duesberg, HIV/AIDS denialist. It’s of the remarkably shallow and “balanced” he said- she said variety.

  6. Shouldn’t that be ‘grisly,’ unless you contract it from a bear bite?

    Just sayin.

  7. The way it’s looking, the situation is about to pass the critical point due to the lack of adequate distribution of crucial supplies. And the junta will have some explaining to do–if anyone cares to press its members over the blood on their hands.

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