According to health officials, an outbreak of schistosomiasis has been ongoing in Myanmar since March. At least 500 cases of the disease have been confirmed as of mid-July. According to local sources, among the areas most affected by the outbreak are the states of Rakhine and Shan, particularly near Inle Lake.
Schistosomiasis is an acute and chronic disease caused by parasitic worms. The transmission of the disease is facilitated by contamination of freshwater sources with the excreta of infected persons, which carry parasite eggs that hatch in water. People become infected when larval forms of the parasite - then released by freshwater snails - penetrate the skin during contact with infested water. Symptoms include bloody urination, abdominal pain, and bloody diarrhea. Treatment is available.
Individuals in Myanmar are advised to drink only bottled or purified water, to avoid bathing in bodies of fresh water (e.g. lakes, ponds, etc.), and to seek medical attention if presenting the abovementioned symptoms.