Two of the now 266 cases of severe diarrhea in Kratie province have been confirmed by the Health Ministry as resulting from cholera, a number too low to be cause for alarm, according to the World Health Organization.
Since March 18, five people have died in Chet Borei district’s Thmei commune due to severe diarrhea. But Dr Sok Touch, director of communicable disease control at the Health Ministry, said laboratory results had not concluded whether their deaths were due to cholera.
“Only two cases have been confirmed, and the rest have not come back yet,” Dr Touch.
Chhneang Sovutha, deputy director of the Kratie provincial health department, said the total number of severe diarrhea cases admitted to the Thmei commune health center reached 266 yesterday, with 85 cases considered serious and sent to the provincial referral hospital.
Seventy-four of the patients have been treated and returned home, he added.
“Since we started intervening [on March 24], no villager has died and the number of villagers with diarrhea has reduced a lot,” Mr Sovutha said.
Although the provincial department was aware of the confirmation of cholera in two of the cases, Mr Sovutha said it was hesitant of telling residents, as it would cause panic.
“They are minorities, they will move away from their villages, and it would be hard to find new land for them,” Mr Sovutha said. “We have enough medicine to treat the patients.”
Dr Pieter van Maaren, WHO country representative, said despite the confirmation of cholera and the rising number of cases of watery diarrhea, the Health Ministry is capable of managing the situation.
“There is no reason to think we are on the verge of a disaster,” he said, adding the Health Ministry has effective rapid response teams, awareness programs and enough medication for the situation.