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Dengue fever cases double in 2009

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Health officials say the dengue numbers are a return to normal but remain a serious problem.

Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN

Crowds march down Sihanouk Boulevard on Tuesday to draw awareness to the dangers of dengue fever. 

THE Ministry of Health hosted its annual meeting on dengue fever Tuesday morning in front of Wat Botum in Phnom Penh, where it released new statistics and launched an advertising  campaign to fight the disease.

Compared with recent years, the presentations at the meeting described 2009 as a fairly typical dengue season after a mild year in 2008 and a particularly severe one in 2007.

Dengue fever is rarely fatal in adults, but children are more susceptible to hemorrhagic dengue, which can kill, according to the Ministry of Health.

So far this year, 3,333 children have been treated for dengue at public hospitals in Cambodia, a sharp increase from last year, when there were only 1,811 child cases but not nearly as bad as the first six months of 2007 when 12,858 people were treated.

"Dengue fever is not increasing or decreasing, but it still causes a lot of concern for us because it is a big public health problem in Cambodia," said Ngan Chantha, director of the Anti-Dengue Programme at the Ministry of Health.

Each year the Anti-Dengue Programme reinvents the advertising campaign and introduces it at the meeting, Ngan Chantha said, adding that this year's slogan is "fight dengue fever to protect yourself and your family".

Duong Socheat, director of the National Malaria Centre, which deals with dengue, said the worst weeks for dengue fever are in August, and that families need to learn about the disease and make sure that young children with dengue are treated by doctors.

"Parents have to pay more attention to the care of their children and prevent them from being infected by this disease," he said.

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