The number of people hospitalised with dengue fever has increased by more than 25 per cent this year compared with last year, and there have been almost three times as many deaths, according to National Dengue Control Program statistics.
Forty-four of the 9,451 people hospitalised with dengue between the beginning of the year and August 16 died from the mosquito-borne illness, NDCP director Ngan Chantha said yesterday.
During the corresponding period last year, 7,477 people were hospitalised with dengue and 19 of them died, he said.
Ngan Chantha said, how-ever, the number of patients had been declining since mid-July and the disease was “under control”.
Outbreaks of dengue fever coincide with the rainy season.
It primarily affects children. Symptoms include a high fever, aching joints and pain behind the eyes. Dengue can also cause internal bleeding and shock.
An individual can contract dengue multiple times because the virus has four serotypes – a group of closely related microorganisms – and infection by multiple serotypes is linked to more severe illness.
Ngan Chantha said his off-ice was working closely with provincial health authorities to conduct education campaigns in provinces where outbreaks of dengue were occurring, particularly in Kampong Thom.
Dengue prevention efforts are hampered by a chronic lack of funding, health officials say. The NDCP’s annual budget is less than US$500,000.
As many as 100 million people are infected globally each year, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
The disease is prevalent in tropical areas, and poor people are more at risk due to crowded living conditions and lack of access to health care.
There is no vaccine for dengue, but early detection and treatment lower the risk of dengue developing into haemorrhagic fever, dengue experts say.