15 Children Die as Suspected Swine Flu Outbreak Hits Kurdish Hassakeh

Medical sources claim deaths were recorded in January in the predominantly Kurdish towns of Tal Barak and Tal Hamis

At least 15 children died in January due to a suspected swine flu outbreak in the Kurdish-controlled areas in the northeastern province of Hassakeh, medical source told Zaman al-Wasl.

The deadly flu cases were recorded in the predominantly Kurdish towns of Tal Barak and Tal Hamis.

The source said malnutrition, the cold weather and the lack of medical care in countryside have worsened the situation.

The town of Smihan near Tal-Barak has witnessed an outbreak of flu-like symptoms in which patients have not responded to treatment. No lab testing is available in the area to confirm the type of flu being transmitted.

The virus risks causing infection and complications like pneumonia, as well as worsening the medical conditions of patients suffering from asthma and other respiratory diseases, patients with weakened immune systems, children and elderly.

Activists claim the death of a 15-year-old girl in the village of Tarij was due to swine flu, but the medical department of the Kurdish self-administration in the north of the country has denied the claims.

The infectious disease department of the Syrian government’s official health directorate in Hassakeh last week run seminars and lectures to educate on the swine flu virus, despite a declaration by Hassakeh’s governor via state news agency SANA that no confirmed cases of the disease have been recorded.

Health conditions in the ISIS-controlled southern countryside of Hassakeh are dire, with no access to primary care centers. Most medical centers have closed and large numbers of medical staff have escaped from the area, with the only remaining medical facilities being a small number of unorganized pharmacies.

Locals mostly rely on medication smuggled from Iraq and Turkey, despite an agreement between Syria’s health directorate and the Red Cross to rebuild medical facilities affected by battles. The directorate also received 20 tons of medication from UN child agency UNICEF, but have only been distributed in areas under the regime’s control in Hassakeh and Qamishli.

This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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