Dengue fever cases increased about 6 percent nationwide last year in Cambodia, but the country avoided the major outbreaks that hit other parts of Southeast Asia, health experts said.
Dengue infected 12,347 people in 2010, resulting in 37 deaths, compared to about 11,693 infections and 38 deaths in 2009, said Ngan Chantha, director of the Health Ministry’s national dengue control program.
“Last year was on time for dengue fever outbreaks, which was why a lot of people were infected,” Mr Chantha said, noting that infections spike every three to five years. “We tried our best to control the situation…otherwise the infections would have been worse.”
Infections by the mosquito-borne disease, which peaks during the rainy season, continued into December this year, raising concerns that outbreaks may affect Cambodia in 2011, he added. “We’ve experienced from previous years [that] whenever the infection rate is still high at the end of one year, outbreaks may hit the country in the coming year,” he said.
During 2010, Kompong Cham, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Kandal and Banteay Meanchey provinces were the worst affected, Mr Chantha said
Hai Ra, head of the dengue fever program for Kompong Cham provincial health department, said 1,047 people were infected last year, which was 240 more infections compared to 2009.
“The series of dengue outbreaks should have hit in other areas, but we successfully urged people to use [the insecticide] Abate to kill larvae and spray to kill mosquitoes,” Mr Ra said.
Dr Nima Asgari, public health specialist at the World Health Organization, said last year Cambodia avoided a rise in dengue cases experienced by neighboring countries, especially Laos.
“For the past few years there have not been big outbreaks like those in Malaysia and Laos during 2010,” he said.
Cambodia’s last major dengue outbreak peaked in 2007, with nearly 40,000 infections and about 400 deaths that year.
(Additional reporting by Alice Foster)