Last update 05/07/2012 08:30:00 AM
Undiagnosed disease kills 61 Cambodian children, investigation underway
Cambodia's Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) are currently conducting an active investigation of an unknown disease in Cambodia, which has killed 61 Cambodian young children since April, according to a joint press release late Wednesday.
The focus of the investigation is to find out the cause and source of the disease for appropriate treatment and control, said the press release.
It said that cases of severe respiratory disease with neurological symptoms have been reported to the ministry. "To date, 61 of the 62 children admitted in hospitals have died from the disease."
The ministry was first alerted to this issue by the physician of Kantha Bopha Children's hospital in Phnom Penh. The unknown disease starts with high fever followed by respiratory and/or neurologic symptoms with rapid deterioration of respiratory functions, it said.
Majority of the cases came from the southern part of the country. No apparent clustering of cases had been seen so far, it added.
"We are currently investigating the cases and possible causes of the disease are being considered but definite identification of the cause and source may take some time," Mam Bun Heng, Minister of Health, said.
Neighboring countries have already been officially informed through a posting made through the international Health Regulations event information system.
Dr. Nima Asgari, team leader of the WHO-Cambodia, said that the body is closely monitoring the situation and is providing technical assistance to the Ministry of Health on field epidemiology, clinical management and active case finding.