Over 100 people struck down after drinking stagnant water
MORE than 100 people have been struck down with diarrhoea and vomiting as a result of drinking water that became polluted during the rainy season in a district of Kampong Chhnang.
Meas Sothem, police chief in Kampong Leaeng district, said that even though no deaths have been reported, 113 people in the Samraong Saen commune were sick, five of whom had to be hospitalised.
"People here use water from the river and stagnant water sources, into which tree leaves fall and rot," he said. "They then drink the water without boiling it and get sick."
Meas Sothem said the illness started appearing on Saturday, with an initial 46 people affected, adding that the number of the sick had increased to 113 by Tuesday.
"Our doctor could not reach the commune in time. This place is far from town, and you need to travel there by boat," he said.
Morm Maly, an emergency officer in the Kampong Chhnang health department, said people became sick because instead of collecting water from the middle of the river, they collected the polluted water close to the riverbank.
"We try to educate people about using clean water, but they do not listen," Morm Maly said. "I think it is only once they have had a problem that they change their behaviour."
Samraong Saen commune currently lacks a well, however, the provincial governor has recently signed a release order allowing a decantation barrel to be taken there, Morn Maly said.
So Rin Tiravuthy, chief of the health department, said the situation has improved after medical aid arrived. "We have sent a doctor to the commune and we are allowing him to stay until the emergency is over."