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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Insecticide handouts cause dramatic fall in dengue fever deaths

Insecticide handouts cause dramatic fall in dengue fever deaths

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Early action by health authorities helped to prevent a repeat of last year's outbreak, which saw more than 400 deaths from the disease

Photo by: Cat Barton

A child seeks treatment for dengue at the Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap. 

DENGUE fever cases have dramatically fallen off this year, Health Ministry officials say, crediting the wider handout of the insecticide Abate with keeping the disease contained.

A total of 7,985 dengue cases resulting in 59 deaths were recorded through the end of October, compared to last year's outbreak that claimed 407 lives from more than 40,000 cases, said Doung Socheat, director of the National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control.

He said this year's dengue fever season was less serious than last year's, because health officials took measures to exterminate mosquitoes before an outbreak could occur.

"We provided Abate to people to put in the water. We educated people to feed small fishes and to clean the area surrounding their houses," he said.

He acknowledged, however, that Kampong Cham, Siem Reap and Kandal provinces, as well as Phnom Penh still had high rates of dengue fever.

Reports of disease down

Srey Acha, the director of Me Sang district referral hospital in Prey Veng province, said they had only seen one mild case of dengue this year, compared to 30 cases last year.

"This year we almost had no dengue cases in our district," he said. "We provided Abate

prior to the outbreak, and furthermore, most people in our district now know how to prevent the disease."

Hing Phan Sakunthea, director of the Ratanakkiri provincial referral hospital, said in the entire province, there were only a handful of dengue cases, while last year, there were 75 cases and one death.

He said that his provincial health officials were still vigilant because the dengue season this year has not yet ended.

Doung Socheat said normally dengue season ends in October or November when the rain subsides, but this is year could be different.

"Nowadays due to climate change, we still have rain late in the season and the mosquitos can keep giving birth," he said. "We are still concerned and will keep [focused] to combat the dengue outbreak."

Dengue is the most common mosquito-borne viral disease in humans that in recent years has become a major international health concern, according to the World Health Organisation. In its worst, often fatal form, dengue haemorrhagic fever destroys the blood vessels, causing its victims to bleed profusely and go into shock. 

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