Preventative Measures Essential in the Battle Against Dengue

Tram kak district, Takeo province – Dengue fever makes you hot, then cold and tired, said 11-year-old Saon Srey Phom, shielding her eyes from Sat­ur­day’s early-morning sun.

You start to feel better, but soon you’re exhausted and feverish again.

She said she was sick for about two weeks when she caught the fev­er last year, recovering only after spend­ing another two weeks at a private clinic.

The hospital bills cost her parents $25; hardship for the family in­creas­ed when her 7-year-old brother came down with the same illness.

It was a serious setback for the fam­i­ly, which survives on about $0.75 each day. And missing a month of school was a setback for Saon Srey Phom, who is dedicated to her studies.

“I want to learn social science,” she said, brightening and breaking into a shy smile as she described her dreams of the future.

“I want to be a teacher, because the job helps the younger generation to improve.”

Attempting to prevent such cas­es of dengue—one of the most pre­valent mosquito-borne illnesses in this village—Ministry of Health off­icials on Saturday morning gave chem­ically-treated mosquito nets to Saon Srey Phom and her classmates at The Tith Mom School in Tra­pa­ing Chak village’s Tram Kak commune.

The 150 nets were handed out as part of The Cambodia Daily Mos­quito Net Campaign.

Dengue fever, also known as break-bone fever, has sickened at least 4,300 children in Cambodia so far this year, according to Ministry of Health statistics.

Sixty-eight of those children have died of dengue hemorrhagic fev­er—the illness’ lethal form, which in­volves painful fever and in some cases hemorrhaging of the brain and gastrointestinal system, and he­morrhagic shock.

No anti-viral treatment or vaccine ex­ists for dengue, which makes preventative measures crucial.

Health experts recommend sleep­ing under mosquito nets and emptying outdoor water containers, which can become breeding grounds for the black- and white-striped mosquito that spreads the disease.

At the schoolhouse Saturday, students sat in neat lines listening as Duong So­cheat, adviser to the Min­is­­try of Health, explained those points—grave topics for the students, among whom at least 10 have suffered from dengue over the last three months, said the school’s Di­rec­tor, Chev Pros.

“Who knows how to prevent ma­laria?” Duong Socheat asked as hands shot upward.

“Who knows how to be sanitary?”             Saon Srey Phom, sitting in the back row answered: Drink clean water, keep your environment clean, sleep un­der a mosquito net.

Duong Socheat gave her 500 riel for her correct answer before launching into instructions on how to use the nets and imploring students not to use them to catch fish.

Related Stories

Latest News