More Than 50 Percent Drop in Dengue Cases, Government Says

Dengue fever cases this year have more than halved compared to the first six months of 2009, the Health Ministry said yesterday. However, health officials warn that more dengue infections are likely during the forthcoming rainy season, which is arriving late.

Seven people died in the first five and a half months of this year, the same toll as last year, but reported infections have decreased in the same period from 2,431 to 1,111, the ministry’s dengue control program director Ngan Chantha said.

“The number has decreased, but we are calling on people to remain careful with the breeding of mosquitoes during the rainy season,” Mr Chantha said. Dengue, which is transmitted by mosquitoes that breed in standing water, is an infection causing severe flu-like symptoms and sometimes leads to death.

“From the 21st to 22nd week, the jump in cases is quite high,” Mr Chantha said, noting there were 242 cases in week 22. “We should be vigilant because July is a highly vulnerable month.”

The decrease in dengue fever cases is due to the delayed rainy season, increased public awareness and health care system improvements, said Hai Ra, head of dengue control at Kompong Cham provincial health department.

In the first 21 weeks of this year there were 122 reported cases of dengue with two deaths in Kom­pong Cham, down from 315 cases with three deaths during the same period last year, he said. Kompong Cham is the second-most affected province after Phnom Penh, followed by Kandal and Siem Reap.

Prak Thorn, director of the Kan­dal provincial health department, blamed delays in sending patients to hospital for deaths. “Children died because parents sent them to the provincial hospital too late,” Mr Thorn said.

“There is no good explanation as to why cases go up or down,” said Dr Pieter van Maaren, country representative of the World Health Organization, noting that over the years there has been a cyclical pattern in dengue fever figures. “We now have to see how the rainy season develops.”

(Additional reporting by Alice Foster)

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