Dengue Cases Spike with Rains but Down for the Year

Dengue fever infections for the year have doubled in the last three weeks, a health official said yesterday, bringing the total number of cases for 2010 to nearly 3,000, including nine deaths.

Of the 2,888 cases recorded through the first 27 weeks of the year, 1,425-nearly half-were reported in the past 21 days, according to Ngan Chantha, director of the Health Ministry’s dengue control program.

Mr Chantha attributed the spike to the arrival of heavy rains and the failure of rural residents to empty pools of standing water around their homes, where the virus-carrying mosquitoes breed.

“There is always a dengue fever outbreak this time of year because there is a lot of rain,” he said, placing most of the cases in the provinces of Kep, Kompong Cham, Siem Reap and Stung Treng.

Despite the spike, Mr Chantha said year-to-date figures were still well down compared to 2009, when the ministry recorded 5,000 infections and 13 deaths.

“It is less than last year, but we still worry,” he said. “If we don’t prevent it, the outbreak will get bigger and bigger.”

Mr Chantha said the ministry was also too short of funds to send enough staff into the field to educate villagers on how to avoid infection.

“We would like the big donors to look at the dengue fever program…to make this program run well and effectively,” he said.

He said the ministry was in the process of distributing 102 tons of chemicals used to kill mosquito larvae across Cambodia and had another 100 tons in stock.

In Kompong Cham, Hai Ra, head of the provincial health department’s dengue fever program, said this year’s outbreak has hit Prey Chhor district the hardest. Last month, he said, the district experienced 79 new cases in one week alone. And though infections there have fallen since, he said health officials were worried that neighboring districts may be affected.

“We are deploying health officials to educate the people near there to destroy the places that shelter the mosquitoes,” he said.

According to Mr Ra, the province has recorded 422 dengue infections and two deaths in the first 28 weeks of the year, compared to 600 infections and three deaths over the same period last year.


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