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Officials check for Zika

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Health officials collect mosquito larvae from a water container in Phnom Penh during a monitoring programme for the Zika virus. Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP

Officials check for Zika

After researchers at the Pasteur Institute last year forecasted a high risk for Zika outbreaks this year, the Kingdom has not recorded any Zika cases so far, though the country isn’t fully in the clear yet, the institute said yesterday.

The Pasteur Institute and the Ministry of Health will continue to monitor, record and test “Zika-like” cases through early next year, Dr Didier Fontenille, director of the Pasteur Institute, said.

“Fortunately, despite a long 2017 rainy season, the outbreak did not [reach] Cambodia yet,” he wrote in an email yesterday. “At the world level Zika outbreak is decreasing, but it is not finished, and for me, Asia, as well as [the] Pacific, Africa and Americas, where the mosquito vector Aedes aegypti is present, will remain at ‘risk’ for decades.”

The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito, which can also transmit dengue, and has been particularly prevalent in Cambodia in 2017 due to a recurring natural spike in its cyclical breeding patterns.

Ly Sovann, spokesman for the Ministry of Health and director of the ministry’s Department of Communicable Diseases, said the ministry is taking measures to identify potential Zika cases early.

“We would like to respond within 24 hours” if there is an outbreak, he said. “We are worried that if the disease spread, it would be difficult to control.”

More than 2,000 rapid-response staff have been trained, and the ministry is working to improve its outbreak response plan for a worst-case scenario in the event their rapid response “failed”, he added.

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