Cambodia urged parents to seek hospital care for children showing symptoms of unusual diseases and to follow good hygiene, as the government and the World Health Organization investigate a rash of child deaths in the Southeast Asian nation.
Preliminary findings identified 57 children exhibiting similar fever, respiratory and neurological symptoms, 56 of whom died, according to a statement issued yesterday by WHO and Cambodia.
“The investigation is ongoing and we are looking at detailed information from the hospital records and analyzing each and every case,” Ly Sovann, deputy director of Cambodia’s Communicable Disease Control Department, said in the statement. “We hope to have a better picture in the coming days.”
Samples from some patients were found negative for H5Nl and other influenza viruses including SARS and Nipah at Institut Pasteur du Cambodge, according to the statement. Most of the children were younger than three years old, came from southern and central Cambodia, and received treatment at Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital in the capital, Phnom Penh. Autopsies haven’t been performed on any of the cases, Nima Asgari, leader of WHO’s emerging disease surveillance and response team in Cambodia, said yesterday.
The cause of the deaths may be the result of a combination of diseases, according to Joy Rivaca Caminade, a technical officer with WHO’s Regional Office for the Western Pacific in Manila. Surveillance in the Southeast Asian nation hasn’t picked up anything of this scale in recent years, she said.
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