About 1,000 more cases of dengue fever were reported in Cambodia during the first three months of this year than the same period in 2011, a Ministry of Health spokesperson said yesterday.
Chor Meng Chuor, director of the National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control, said eight people had died and 1,393 were infected through to March 31, up from four deaths and 339 cases in the first three months of last year.
“That’s why we’re distributing 270 tonnes of [insecticide] across the country,” he said yesterday at a dengue fever awareness parade that involved about 600 school students in the capital’s Sen Sok district.
Chor Meng Chuor said the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation had been preparing for an outbreak because of dengue fever’s tendency to strike in one of its four forms about every five years.
In 2007, more than 400 people, mostly children, died from dengue fever in Cambodia, while authorities recorded about 40,000 infections.
“We don’t want to see another year like 2007, so this campaign is very important to alert and awaken parents to this,” he said.
Minister of Health Mom Bun Heng said the campaign would help the community work together to prevent outbreaks.
“Children must not die from this virus, because we can prevent it,” he said.
Steve Bjorge, malaria and mosquito-borne disease team leader for the WHO in Phnom Penh, said the campaign would focus on distributing insecticide to 10 provinces, including Siem Reap, Preah Sihanouk, Kandal and Phnom Penh, that are at higher risk of dengue fever.
“Nothing unusual may happen, but it would be prudent to take precautions,” he said, adding that dengue fever could strike anywhere but was most common in urban areas.
“Mosquitoes lay eggs on water. Water in the vicinity of a house in small containers, cups, tins, coconut shells and especially large water jars under houses . . . are breeding sites for dengue mosquitoes.
“If you live in a house . . . you should go around and check if there is any standing water in containers.”
“Seven-coloured” fish could be put in water to eat larvae, he said, adding that the black and white tiger mosquito, also known as an Aedes mosquito, was the only type that could transmit dengue fever.
The Post reported in late February that the Ministry of Health was preparing for an “epidemic cycle” after an “unusual increase” in mosquito larvae.
Dengue fever killed 72 people, mostly children, in Cambodia last year.