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56 Cambodian children killed by unknown disease in 3 months

07-07-2012 09:08 BJT

PHNOM PENH, July 6 (Xinhua) -- The Cambodian Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) said late Friday that the initial investigation results showed that 56 children had died of the undiagnosed disease in the last three months and an active investigation is still going on.

The death toll was lower than the 61 deaths announced on Wednesday.

"Preliminary findings identified a total of 74 cases who were hospitalized from April to 5 July 2012," said a joint statement of the ministry and the WHO.

"Of these, 57 cases including 56 deaths, presented a common syndrome of fever, respiratory and neurological signs, which is now the focus of the investigation."

Most of the identified cases to date were under three years old. Most of them were from the Southern and Central parts of the country, and received treatment at Kantha Bopha Children's hospital, which is a reference pediatric hospital.

"Despite all efforts, many of the children died within 24 hours of admission," said the statement.

"The investigation is ongoing. We are looking at detailed information from the hospital records and analyzing each and every case. We hope to have a better picture in the coming days," said Dr. Ly Sovann, deputy director of communicable disease control department at the Ministry of Health.

A few samples were available and were tested at the lnstitut Pasteur du Cambodge.

"Although a causative agent remains to be formally identified, these samples were found negative for H5Nl and other influenza viruses, SARS and Nipah," said the statement.

The WHO and partners are assisting the Ministry of Health with the epidemic, focusing on hospitalized cases, early warning surveillance data, laboratory and field investigations.

Minister of Health Mam BunHeng said while his ministry is actively investigating into the cause of the disease, with special attention on other diseases in the country, including dengue, hand- foot and mouth disease and Chikungunya.

Parents are advised to bring their children to hospitals if they see any signs of unusual illness, he said.

The MOH would like to advice again to the public to maintain good hygiene practices, such as washing hands often and taking good care of sick children, he said.

Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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