Diarrhea, Vomiting Sickens 45 in K Speu, May Be Linked to Deaths

Health officials in Kompong Speu province said 45 hospitalized patients and three people who died last month displayed similar symptoms of severe diarrhea and vomiting, though some added yesterday that the source of the illness was unclear.

Those hospitalized were admitted to the provincial hospital on Friday and Saturday while three others died since the end of January, director of the provincial health department Or Vanthen said.

He declined to name the three victims because, while they all had diarrhea at the time of their death, they might have also had other illnesses as well that need to be factored in.

He said the reason for the diarrhea was due to ingesting unsanitary water.

“We concluded these cases were caused by people using water without boiling it,” he said, adding the patients were also vomiting. “They used water from ponds but animals also use that water.”

He ruled out cholera as the cause because the bacteria infects many people in one location but in Kompong Speu, there have been only a few cases from many different locations.

However, Dr Ly Sovann, deputy director of the Health Ministry’s department of communicable disease control, said yesterday that ministry officials are still investigating to determine if cholera is a possible source of the illnesses and deaths.

“We are researching because in the recent days many people have had diarrhea,” he said.

Dr Nima Asgari, a public health expert with the World Health Organization in Cambodia, said yesterday that many different viruses, in addition to cholera, can cause diarrhea.

Dr Asgari said in general, during the dry season, there are more cases of diarrhea because a lack of water supplies means people use the same water sources more often which makes them more vulnerable if the sources become contaminated.

(Additional reporting by Christi Hang)


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