Tests have confirmed that cholera has struck Prey Veng Provincial Prison, where dozens of inmates are suffering from severe diarrhea, and one inmate died last week of cholera-like symptoms, a provincial health official said yesterday.
Phai Va, 27, died Thursday, and by Saturday 44 other inmates were suffering from acute watery diarrhea, said Dr Tep Sam Oeun, a member of the quick reaction unit of the Prey Veng provincial health department.
Mr Va was not tested for cholera, as his body was handed over to his family before a sample could be obtained, he said, adding that it’s not clear how many patients contracted cholera, as only four were tested.
“We got the result today: It is cholera. Three out of the four samples we sent to the laboratory are positive,” he said. The one negative result means not all sick inmates had the disease, he said. Three of the most serious patients are being kept in the provincial hospital, but their condition is improving, he said.
The outbreak began July 20, with Mr Va dying two days later.
Heng Hak, general director of the Interior Ministry’s general department of prisons, criticized the prison for not seeking help from the ministry before Thursday.
“No one came to us. Only after one died then they come to us for help,” he said.
The prison is still in the process of sanitizing its cells, he said.
“We are spraying anti-bacterial liquid in their place. We told them to wash their clothes and told them to be careful with their meals,” he said.
Va Yorn, director of the Prey Veng Provincial Prison, could not be reached for comment Friday.
The death on Thursday in Prey Veng brings the total number of prisoners to die so far this year to 46, while 60 inmates died in all of 2009, Mr Hak said last week.
Officials confirmed last week the deaths because of illness of five prisoners in the space of five days this month at Kompong Cham Provincial Prison. Mr Hak confirmed yesterday that two other inmates died this month.