Officials in Siem Reap province are preparing this month for a possible dengue fever “epidemic” that authorities fear could be a repeat of a mass outbreak of the virus in 2007, officials said last week.
Chairman of the Dengue Fever Programme at the provincial health department, Bou Sarin, said dengue cases in Siem Reap had “exploded” in recent weeks, following an outbreak in Kampong Thom province.
“Siem Reap province is facing a serious threat from dengue fever with the rainy season coming, and it may become more serious as it spreads from Kampong Thom, which is already in the midst of a province-wide epidemic,” he said.
Bou Sarin added that, according to data from Siem Reap provincial hospitals, 363 children have been admitted to hospitals after contracting dengue fever so far this year.
Pesticides, which are used to clear mosquito breeding grounds, have proven effective in combatting dengue infection in the past and have been distributed in local villages, Kros Sarath, deputy director of the provincial health department, said.
“[The virus] is only transmitted from mosquito to person, therefore the main thing people should do is use mosquito repellents and stay well covered while outside and keep their water stores clean,” he said.
In Sotr Nikum district, where pesticides has been used to remove mosquito larvae from wells, deputy district chief Ngin Mom said information sessions were still being held and booklets detailing preventative health measures distributed ahead of any potential outbreak.
“We have no reports of anyone who has contracted or died from the fever yet,” she said.
However, Bou Sarin cautioned that although pestiticides could be effective, they may not be enough to contain the virus in certain communities which have been hit by dengue outbreaks in the past.
“One of the areas most at risk is Kampong Kdei [commune in Chi Kraeng district],” he said. “We’ve predicted that illness will seriously spread from there and we have to take steps to prevent it.”
Ngan Chantha, director of the National Anti-Dengue Programme at the Ministry of Health, could not be reached for comment yesterday.