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Dengue figures not waning

Dengue figures not waning

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A mother prays over her child, who is suffering from dengue fever, at the Kantha Bopha children’s hospital in Phnom Penh in 2007. Photograph: Reuters

This was supposed to be the week that the number of new dengue cases began to drop, but Cambodian health officials are worrying that heavy rains will keep the epidemic spreading and add more than 1,000 cases a week for the foreseeable future.

The dengue death toll stands at 48 for the first 26 weeks of the year, and public facilities have reported 11,666 cases, National Dengue Control Program director Ngan Chantha said yesterday.

This represents a jump of 18 deaths and 4,465 cases from week 24 to week 26.

But even these numbers only spoke for about 80 per cent of all the cases, Ngan Chantha estimated.

Experts call the weeks 24 to 27 of the year the “big peak of dengue”, and they usually expect to see a decrease in the number of new cases after week 28.

However, having arrived at week 28, Ngan Chantha said an easing of what is the most severe outbreak of dengue in the Kingdom since 2007 is unlikely any time soon.

“I’m very worried about the climate change this year,” Ngan Chantha said. “We cannot predict the rain or the temperature.”

The lingering epidemic is also packing the Kingdom’s medical institutions with sick children. Kantha Bopha hospitals reported on Sunday that they treated 5,534 severe cases of hemorrhagic dengue fever in the month of June alone.

The Kantha Bopha outpatient hospitals cover 92 per cent of children sick with dengue, according to a press release from hospital founder Dr Beat Richner.

Ngan Chantha added that three Kantha Bopha hospitals in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap covered 85 to 90 per cent of dengue infection cases nationwide every year.

This year’s outbreak means the sentinel hospitals have to treat an increasing number of patients on a daily basis.

To contact the reporter on this story: Xiaoqing Pi at [email protected]

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