Health Officials Search for Source of Cholera Cases in Kandal and Takeo

At least seven people from the provinces of Takeo and Kandal were treated for cholera at hospitals in Vietnam last month, according a health official and a Vietnamese news report.

Dr Sok Touch, director of the Cambodian Ministry of Health’s communicable disease control department, said yesterday that his department was aware of the cases and plans to send health officials to meet with patients and Vietnamese government counterparts on Feb 8 and 9 to try and determine the source of the infections.

Dr Touch said he was uncertain how many Cambodians in total had been infected with the disease or how they had become infected.

According to Vietnamese state-run Thanh Nien newspaper, seven cholera patients from Cambodia’s Takeo and Kandal provinces checked into hospitals in Vietnam’s An Giang province for treatment between Jan 19 and Jan 28.

Dr Nima Asgari, a public health specialist with the World Health Organization in Cambodia, said yesterday there were no cases of cholera reported in 2008 and only a handful in 2009, but he added that it is not unusual to hear of cases in the region.

“Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, cases have been reported in all of those countries,” he said.

Dr Asgari said cholera has a tendency to become an outbreak- many cases appearing in the same area very quickly.

The bacteria that causes cholera is introduced to the body through the ingestion of water or food tainted with the bacteria usually spread from feces.

“In theory, nobody should die from cholera,” Dr Asgari added.

Dr Touch said that generally speaking, the cholera bacteria can live in humans from two hours to five days, and is marked by chronic diarrhea.

“we can protect ourselves by drinking clean water and eating [clean] food and always practicing good hygiene habits such as washing your hands often during the day,” he said.



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