Health Ministry Warns of a Spike in Dengue

Health Ministry officials are warning that this year will see an increased rate of dengue fever across the country, as the cyclical virus has already shown higher than usual rates of infection, with Mondolkiri province seeing an acute spike in cases.

“We are worried because this year dengue is recurring,” Health Ministry spokesman Ly Sovann said. “Currently the situation is OK.”

Large outbreaks of the mosquito-borne virus happen every three to five years. In February, the National Malaria Center observed that dengue cases reported in January were similar to those recorded in 2007 and 2012, when the country last saw dengue epidemics.

The center’s latest report on May 16 showed there had been 1,656 cases of dengue fever across the country this year, up from 617 cases reported over the same period last year. Phnom Penh and Siem Reap province, along with most central and western provinces, have seen most of the cases.

Dr. Sovann said the ministry has already advised all provinces and cities where the fever is prevalent to take preventative measures.

“The most important thing is the participation of people in cleaning up the trash that contains water, which gives places for mosquitoes to breed,” he said, adding that mosquito spray was not necessarily an effective countermeasure.

Bun Sour, the director of the Mondolkiri provincial health department, said that despite a severe increase in dengue fever cases in his province, there was no cause for particular concern.

He said there have been 210 cases in the area so far this year, up from only 13 cases in the first half of last year, with one resulting in the death of a 6-year-old.

“I would like to state that in Mondolkiri, it is not an outbreak yet…because we can control the situation,” he said.

Mr. Sour cited the growing population as one of the main causes of increased cases, despite dengue being a mosquito-borne virus. 

“Mondolkiri province has more migration of people from other places,” he said. “Sometimes they bring the disease along and transmit it to others.”

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