Health ministry warns against possible outbreaks of dengue

Phnom Penh. The Ministry of Health of Cambodia warned this week against possible outbreaks of dengue due to the rainy season. ‘It is difficult to predict dengue outbreaks, but according to our experience, we just think that this year there may be an epidemic,’ said Ngan Chantha, director of the Health Ministry’s national control and quoted by the Cambodia Daily on Wednesday. Dengue fever stills a big issue in Cambodia, affecting especially rural areas and poor communities.

Vomit, cough, headache, muscle and joint pains and high temperature are the main symptoms of the disease. Children under 15 and elderly people are the most vulnerable to dengue, most of them in rural areas with poor hygiene and sanitation. In 2010, dengue fever increased in Cambodia to 12,367 cases with 37 fatalities, said Ngan Chantha to the South East Asia Weekly in January 10 this year. In 2008 it was 9,456 cases with 65 persons who died due to the sickness.

The Ministry of Health tries to teach people to prevent the epidemic through campaigns by destroying the mosquito shelters and encouraging villagers to sleep in mosquito nets, but it seems that information has not been enough.

Rural families should know that they must clean the areas around their houses and villages to avoid diseases like dengue and malaria. There are different kinds of mosquitoes that villagers need to know in order to fight the evil. In this case, the support of organizations, schools and media is required to join the efforts of officials like the Health Ministry.

Cambodia as a tropical country is vulnerable to deceases like dengue, malaria and yellow fever, transmitted by the Aedes genus mosquito that bites primarily during the day. The Aedes itself is contaminated with the dengue virus, thought it has not detrimental effects on it. When it bites, the virus passes from the mosquito saliva to the human blood. The Aedes puts its eggs in ponds and feeds preferable from human blood. Dengue can be transmitted through transfusions and organ donation, however, human to human contamination is unusual.

There are not approved vaccines for the dengue virus, according to the British Medical Bulletin. Therefore, prevention by destroying the Aedes habitats is the only way to fight epidemics, especially in poor communities and rural areas.

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About Albeiro Rodas

Albeiro Rodas (in Cambodia Sky Ly Samnang), is a MA in Digital Communication, independent journalist and a Salesian of Don Bosco from Amalfi, Colombia, based in Cambodia since 1999. He is the creator of the Don Bosco schools of journalism in Sihanoukville and Kep with young people from poor communities and the founder of the Don Bosco Kep Children Fund. Medal for Social Commitment UPB (2010); among the 100 more upstanding Colombians abroad (Marca Colombia, 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X39xwdGtVXI) and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (http://www.colombia.co/en/culture/colombians-that-are-making-this-a-better-world.html).

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