Within a span of 20 weeks this year, the death toll from dengue fever has risen to 21, while the number of those who have fallen ill due to the disease has reached over 12,000.
A specialised official said the figure has risen about three times as much compared to the same period last year when about 3,000 people contracted dengue fever.
Leang Rithy, the director of the National Dengue Disease Control Programme at the National Centre for Malaria, Pandemic and Entomology, told The Post on Sunday the deceased were from the capital and six provinces.
He said most of them died because they sought treatment at small, unspecialised private clinics without proper medical equipment instead of admitting themselves to state-run hospitals or health centres.
“At state hospitals, there was no death toll. Those who died of the disease tried in vain to receive treatment at small, incompetent private clinics – it’s a loss for them.
“Dengue fever develops fast. Because some private clinics are not specialised in treating the disease, they just put patients on medication and drips. The practice put patients’ lives at risk because they absorbed too much serum,” he said.
Rithy said the outbreak of dengue fever nationwide has not decreased, while the Ministry of Health is striving to boost awareness among residents.
It is educating the public on how to fumigate breeding grounds of the aedes aegypti mosquito which spreads the disease by biting one person after another, and to seek correct treatment from specialised health centres should they contract the disease.
The ministry had recently appealed to all health departments across the Kingdom to disseminate information on how to diagnose dengue fever to unspecialised private clinics throughout the country.
Threat of legal action
That, the ministry said, could help prevent deaths as the clinics would discontinue treating their patients and transfer them to specialised centres after diagnosing them with the disease.
Any clinic found to have continued their treatment despite a lack of proper medical equipment and specialised doctors, the ministry warned, would result in legal action.
Rithy stressed that although this year has seen the worst case of dengue fever outbreak, which he said happens every six to seven years, the ministry was well prepared both in treating patients and taking measures to keep the aedes mosquito at bay.
He said the ministry has prepared nearly 70,000 banks of serum, 172 tonnes of Abate larvicide, and 7,000 litres of insect spray to be distributed to those who are most vulnerable to dengue fever.
Last week, the ministry also urged residents to jointly combat dengue fever, saying the disease could be contracted by people of all ages.
The ministry called on them to get rid of breeding grounds of female aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which hatches its eggs in clear waters, likes to live near people and flies not more than 150m from its habitat.
Eradicate mosquito larvae
It urged parents to eradicate mosquito larvae from water containers and storage places such as water tanks, flower pots, pans, tables, jars, buckets, among others, while water must be changed regularly and such containers cleaned at least once a week and closed.
Other watery materials that were not used, such as car or motorbike tyres, crates or bottles must be buried or destroyed so as not to accumulate water.
The ministry advised people who have high temperatures to rush to state-run hospitals or specialised medical centres for checkups.
It said within the first two to three days of a mosquito bite, patients may suffer acute illness followed by headache, fever, exhaustion, severe muscle and joint pain, swollen glands, vomiting and rashes. The ministry urged patients to receive treatment no later than 72 hours once they are diagnosed with dengue fever.
Rithy said this year, dengue fever is on a sharp rise not only in Cambodia but also throughout Southeast Asian countries. In the Philippines, the death toll from dengue fever has reached 303 among a total of 72,000 patients.
In Thailand, 70 out of more than 70,000 patients died from the disease. In Malaysia, 70 out of over 50,000 patients also lost their lives. In Vietnam, over 40,000 patients have contracted the disease though Rithy did not provide a figure for death from the disease.