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Steep decline in dengue cases

Men sleep under a mosquito net on a Phnom Penh sidewalk
Men sleep under a mosquito net on a Phnom Penh sidewalk last month. Reported dengue fever cases in the first quarter of this year are down 87 per cent. AFP

Steep decline in dengue cases

The number of reported dengue fever cases so far this year has plummeted 87 per cent compared with the same three-month period in 2013, according to the Ministry of Health.

A report released on Friday by the National Center for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control shows dengue cases fell from 1,393 during January through March of last year to just 179 cases this year.

“We have achieved good results in controlling the disease; however, more efforts are still needed to prevent outbreaks of the disease,” the report, penned by centre director Char Meng Chuor, states.

Deaths attributed to dengue also plunged. According to the report, the disease has claimed the life of one child this year, compared with six deaths over the same period in 2013.

Chuor did not respond to requests for comment yesterday, while his deputy director, Chea Nguon, declined to comment. Dr Chantha Ngan, director of the Ministry of Health’s anti-dengue program could not be reached.

According to Tang Choong Siang, who heads the World Health Organization’s efforts against dengue and other vector-borne diseases in Cambodia, this year’s drop in reported cases could be the result of increasingly widespread knowledge about dengue prevention.

“More efforts are being made to publicly push the use of mosquito nets and educate the public about maintaining sanitary conditions and covering and emptying domestic water storage containers on a weekly basis,” Choong Siang said, adding that these steps are crucial to combating the spread of the Aedes vector mosquitoes.

But while the first-quarter numbers are cause for celebration, Siang cautioned that outbreaks typically begin in April and May and peak from August to September.

“The mosquito population swells during the rainy season, when outdoor containers fill with rainwater. In Cambodia, when the rainy season starts is when dengue transmission will usually start to increase,” he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHHAY CHANNYDA

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