Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said on Thursday that the chikungunya outbreak in the Kingdom has spread to 15 provinces. Some 1,700 people are now suspected to have the disease.
Vandine urged people to prevent its further spread by eliminating shelters for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes which are attracted to standing water and breed anywhere water collects.
She told The Post that the National Dengue Control Programme of the National Centre of Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control published a report on Wednesday revealing the number of suspected cases. She said the numbers varied greatly in each province.
“According to the previous report, we had the disease in 12 provinces. But now we have three more provinces – Kampong Thom, Battambang and Kandal,” she said.
The other remaining provinces with cases are Stung Treng, Pailin, Pursat, Oddar Meanchey, Kampot, Tbong Khmum, Takeo, Preah Sihanouk, Preah Vihear, Banteay Meanchey, Kampong Cham and Siem Reap.
Out of the suspected patients tested in Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey, Preah Vihear, Siem Reap, Stung Treng, Preah Sihanouk and Battambang provinces, 72.4 per cent were positive for chikungunya, Vandine said.
“Please be careful in protecting yourself amid the rainy season [when] mosquitoes [like to] breed,” she said.
She said most of the people suspected of having the disease had recovered and returned to their homes. Only a small number are being treated in hospitals.
The suspected cases, she said, had increased noticeably in Siem Reap – from 467 cases to 674. Kampong Cham from 146 to 280 cases, Kandal from 142 to 164 and Banteay Meanchey from 211 to 227.
A press release issued by the health ministry on July 23 said the first case of chikungunya appeared in 1953 in Africa. The disease was detected for the first time in Cambodia by the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge in 1961, with more cases reported in 2011.
The press release said chikungunya is a viral illness transmitted by mosquitoes that caused the sudden onset of fever and severe joint pain.
Patients may also suffer from fatigue, muscle pain, headaches and rashes. It is usually not life-threatening and people usually recover within weeks. But if chikungunya is compounded by another disease such as dengue fever or malaria, it can be life-threatening.
Vandine said the anti-dengue larvicide Abate is 33 per cent effective in preventing chikungunya infections and eliminating mosquito shelters. Sleeping under nets is 66 per cent effective, she said.
Siem Reap resident Bou Savy told The Post on Thursday that three of his five children had been infected with chikungunya for one month and are being treated at a private hospital.
“I don’t know where children can go to play because when it rains, the grounds become wet and around the house there’s a forest and grass too.
“Quite a few people who came to the hospital said they have the same illness. Around my house, there are chikungunya patients too. This disease spreads quickly.
“So, we have to maintain hygiene and clean houses of all stagnant water containers because mosquito spray is not effective for long,” he said.