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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Deaths not from cholera

Deaths not from cholera

K OMPONG SPEU - About 20 villagers have died, and another 200 become sick, from

chronic diarrhea in this province since the start of the year. A provincial

health official blamed poor quality water and food for the outbreak of diarrhea,

which has been widely misreported as a cholera epidemic.

Chen Youthany,

administrative chief of Kompong Speu's health service, said the problem was

primarily due to a shortage of food and water, though there had been other

causes. In one case, many villagers in Trapeng Pil commune, in Samrong Torng

district, fell sick with severe diarrhea from food poisoning after eating at a

local wedding. She was unable to say whether anybody died.

Elsewhere in

Samrong Torng, and neighboring Oural and Phnom Srouch districts, dry-season

drought and a shortage of food had caused deaths from diarrhea.

People

without enough food usually ate anything they could find, even if it made them

sick, she said.

"They don't care much about what they eat and drink, they

just care about whether they have food and water or not."

She was angry

that the diarrhea problems had been misreported by news media as being a cholera

epidemic. The reports had led to government ministers traveling to the province

to investigate, only to be angry that they had been

misinformed.

According to the Ministry of Health, there had been a few

cases of cholera symptoms - but no deaths - in Kompong Speu, Takeo, and Kompong

Cham.

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