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Measles confirmation prompts fears, action

A government health worker administers a measles vaccination to a student at a Phnom Penh secondary school in 2013.
A government health worker administers a measles vaccination to a student at a Phnom Penh secondary school in 2013. Vireak Mai

Measles confirmation prompts fears, action

Two measles cases investigated by the government in recent weeks have been confirmed positive, bringing the total number to five this year and causing concern among health officials about a possible outbreak after the World Health Organization declared the country measles-free just last year.

The latest cases – found in an 8-month-old in Phnom Penh and a 10-month-old in Svay Rieng province – have the same strain that caused a deadly outbreak in Vietnam in 2014, Ork Vichit, manager of Cambodia’s National Immunization Program, said yesterday.

He said the transmission might have migrated from a neighbouring country.

“It’s an issue that we have to solve,” he said. “We still have some intervention in the areas where the cases were identified. People are being provided vaccines.”

The immunisation program has requested $200,000 for operational costs to cover the intervention efforts, Vichit said.

It has also requested 200,000 measles vaccines from the Measles and Rubella Initiative, a global organisation, to conduct a follow-up intervention effort to vaccinate people in the areas where the three prior cases were identified earlier this year, he added.

In May, a case was identified in Takeo province’s Bati district, where another case had cropped up in January, he said. The first case was identified in Kampong Speu’s Kong Pisei district in January.

A WHO Cambodia expert was not available for comment.

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