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Typhoid a ‘burden’ near Tonle Sap: study

A new study has found that there is a “substantial burden” of pediatric typhoid fever in rural communes in Cambodia.

The peer-reviewed research, published this month in the scientific journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, is aimed at better understanding the infectious disease in the Kingdom, given the limited data on the epidemiology of the disease, which is caused by the bacterium salmonella typhai.

Researchers, including some from Oxford and Cambridge universities, obtained routine data from Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap. According to the data, there were a total of 262 cases within a 100-kilometre radius of the hospital during the period studied. The median age for each patient was just over 8 years old.

“We found a large burden of typhoid fever in children in this largely rural setting in central Cambodia,” the study reads. “We also found that disease was associated with the rainy season and that living close to Tonle Sap Lake increased the risk of disease.”

Claudia Turner, chief executive officer for Angkor Hospital for Children, said she wasn’t surprised with the findings. “I think it’s pretty expected,” she said. But “it shows the there’s more work to be done on education of hygiene and clean water”.

Southeast Asia has generally had a high incidence of typhoid fever, though other countries in the region that have introduced vaccines tend to have lower rates than the area studied.

Ork Vichit, manager at Cambodia’s National Immunisation Program, said that “typhoid is not a top priority”.

“This kind of disease can be preventable without a vaccine.”

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