CAMBODIA : Dengue fever cases have shot up 350 percent in the first 34 weeks of this year compared to the same period last year, according to the government’s latest figures, but are still lower than the number of cases recorded in the three years prior to 2014. A Health Ministry official attributed the increase to periodic changes in the mosquito-borne virus.
According to a report posted to the website of the ministry’s National Malaria Center last week, health workers recorded 7,799 cases of dengue during the first 34 weeks of 2015, up from 2,227 cases during the same period last year.
Though the virus also killed more people—24 compared to 15 —the fatality rate fell from 0.7 percent to 0.3 percent.
“The results show that Cambodians have a high awareness of how to prevent dengue thanks to community health education, especially at schools, and better quality treatment at state-run hospitals, which make more people come to get treatment from the state,” the report says.
The report does not provide any explanation for the surge, but Ly Sovann, a spokesman for the Health Ministry, attributed it to changes in the virus itself, which he said occurs every few years.
“We face a new virus every two or three years, so the children are not immune to it,” he said Sunday.
And despite the increase in recorded cases, Mr. Sovann said this year’s cases did not signal a major outbreak.
“We have seen an increase, but it is not an emergency yet,” he said. “It is still low because many people are aware.”
According to the report, 80 percent of this year’s cases occurred in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Banteay Meanchey, Kandal, Kompong Cham, Kompong Speu, Kompong Thom, Prey Veng and Siem Reap.
Kandal provincial health director Kuy Bunthoeurn said that year-on-year dengue cases in his province were down, from 813 to 780.
“Even though the numbers are similar, we continue to take action and educate people about preventing dengue,” he said.