The number of dengue fever cases in Cambodia has skyrocketed, with children hit hardest by the killer disease, according to new government figures.
Incidences of dengue leapt by more than 300 per cent to 11,828 cases between January and September this year, compared to just 2,853 cases in the same period in 2014, according to a report published on Monday by the National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control.
Over 70 per cent of those who fell sick were children aged 5 to 14, of whom 34 died.
Dr Leang Rithea, the national dengue control program manager at the Ministry of Health, said yesterday that the apparent spike in cases was largely due to the impact of the rainy season, which has increased the prevalence of mosquitoes carrying the disease.
He also attributed the uptick to more people seeking treatment for the disease at government health facilities, rather than at private clinics.
“They [villagers] took their children to receive the government service, which makes the data increase,” he said. “The data increase does not mean it is a bad sign.”
However, spikes in dengue cases follow a cyclical pattern, and it had already been predicted that 2015 would see such an upswing.
Cambodia is also experiencing one of the strongest El Niño cycles in recent memory, with a recent study by the US-based Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finding a strong correlation between the weather phenomenon and spikes in dengue cases.
The Health Ministry’s Rithea also noted that other countries in the region had seen jumps in dengue in the same period.