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Dengue fever casualties down nationwide: ministry

Dengue fever casualties down nationwide: ministry

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081230_05.jpg

The head of the Health Ministry's anti-dengue fever program credits better education and treatment for the decline

Photo by:

Tracey Shelton

A young dengue patient awaits treatment at Kantha Bopha hospital in Phnom Penh.

A HEALTH Ministry official announced Monday a steep decline in the number of infections and deaths from dengue fever countrywide this year.

Ngan Chantha, director of the ministry's anti-dengue fever program, said 65 people have died from the disease so far this year, compared with 407 deaths in 2007.

He said 9,300 people contracted the disease in 2008, down from 39,851 cases last year.

Dengue fever is a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes that causes severe fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, and skin rash.

Ngan Chantha credited greater funding and educational programs for the drop in infection rates and deaths.

"We have a preventative program in place to check the spread of dengue fever," he told the Post Monday, adding that the government has also received support from the World Health Organisation, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and USAID.

Ngan Chantha said provinces hardest hit by dengue include Kampong Cham, Kampong Thom, Kandal and Siem Reap, but that the disease finds a strong foothold in areas suffering from poor sanitation.

However, Ngan Chantha identified a troubling trend  in the spread of the disease.

"Now, it is not only the children who get infected. It is also older men between 20 and 50," he said, adding that the ministry did not have data on infection rates among adults but that it would conduct studies in the future.

Srey Acha, director of the Me Sang district referral hospital in Prey Veng province, said the hospital treated no cases of dengue fever so far this year.

"People in my district now have a greater understanding about how to prevent infection," he told the Post Monday.

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