Suspected Cases of Cholera Jump in Kratie; Now Total 224

Another 24 suspected cholera cases have been recorded in Kratie pro­­­vince’s Chet Borei district, bring­­­­­ing the total number of severe di­­a­­rrhea and vomiting cases yesterday to 224, officials said.

Deputy provincial health director Chhneang Sovutha said by telephone that 73 of the cases are considered serious, but he added that the spread of the bacteria-borne illness appeared to be slowing.

“The cases of diarrhea de­creased a lot,” Mr Sovutha said. “We don’t know the real reason [for the cases] yet. It could be from the food and unclean water.”

Health officials are still awaiting laboratory results, but Dr Sok Touch, director of communicable disease control at the Health Ministry, said Sunday that the recent illnesses and deaths were a result of cholera, an illness caused by a bacterium contracted through consumption of contaminated food and water.

Officials said Friday that seven people had died from the illness, however Chet Borei District Gov­er­nor Suon Nhak said yesterday that only five people in Thmei commune had died due to severe diarrhea and vomiting.

“We can control the situation now and not that many people are get­­­­ting diarrhea,” he said.

Dr Ou Khylay, director of the provincial referral hospital, said yesterday that 72 people have been treated there for severe diarrhea, with 51 already returned home.

“But we still worry if the disease spreads to other areas,” he said, adding that although the hos­­­­­pital can handle the cases now, in the future there might be a need for more staff members and medication.

Dr Pieter van Maaren, country representative for the World Health Organization, said the organization was receiving information from the Ministry of Health and has not heard of any “confirmed” cholera cases in Kratie.

Dr Maaren did say cases of acute watery diarrhea, including cholera-caused, can cause dehydration and even death in only a couple of hours, although that is quite rare.

  (Additional reporting by Christi Hang)

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