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Investigators Probe Mystery Disease Killing Cambodian Children 

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Old 07-06-2012, 01:21 PM
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Investigators Probe Mystery Disease Killing Cambodian Children

Hong Kong (CNN) -- The World Health Organization and Cambodian health officials are investigating why at least 61 children in the country have died mysteriously after suffering severe neurological and respiratory complications.

Dr. Beat Richner of the Kantha Bopha Children's Hospitals, who first alerted Cambodia's health authorities about the unknown disease, said that as of Friday he knew of 64 cases in which only two children have survived.

The Cambodian Ministry of Health said that 56 of the deaths were preceded by a common syndrome of fever and respiratory and neurological problems.
Seventy-four cases of the disease have been identified, the ministry said.

Countries surrounding Cambodia were informed of a deadly disease that killed dozens of children this week through the International Health Regulations event information system, which provides public health communications.

In Hong Kong, a major air hub in the region, health officials responded by alerting doctors to be watchful for patients returning from Cambodia who have respiratory symptoms. Travelers who have been to Cambodia were told to visit their doctors if they developed respiratory symptoms.

The unknown illness appears in children, according to the WHO and the Cambodian Ministry of Health.
A majority of the identified cases were in children under 3, the health ministry said.

"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, a deputy director at the ministry.

The children who fell ill first experienced a high fever followed by respiratory problems. Some of them also had neurological symptoms that included convulsions, according to the WHO.

Richner said the patients suffered from encephalitis, which is the inflammation of the brain.

"They are hospitalized," he said. "They arrive in our hospital; in the last moments ... they die because their lungs are destroyed."
When asked what he thought caused the deadly illness, he said: "I think our idea is an enterovirus or an intoxication of a drug," or a combination of both.

Richner added that the number of cases affected by the unknown disease is low -- 34 cases in June, compared with the 75,000 sick children at Kantha Bopha's outpatient clinics and 16,000 hospitalized kids.

The majority of the cases came from the southern part of the country, but there haven't been signs of clustering, according to the WHO.

The young patients were brought to hospitals in the capital, Phnom Penh, and the northern tourist hub of Siem Reap -- the two biggest cities of Cambodia. The Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap reported one case of the mysterious illness as of Friday, according to an e-mail received by CNN from Dr. Bill Housworth, the hospital's executive director.

"WHO supports the Ministry with the investigation and detailed analysis of each of these cases to find out the cause," wrote Dr. Pieter Van Maaren, a representative of WHO in Cambodia in an e-mail Friday.

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Old 07-06-2012, 02:01 PM
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Re: Investigators Probe Mystery Disease Killing Cambodian Children

Wouldn't like to be the guy who has to find out which particular virus it is. Could be anyfuckingthing.

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Old 07-06-2012, 08:35 PM
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Re: Investigators Probe Mystery Disease Killing Cambodian Children

this area of the planet is the origin for many pathogens

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Old 07-07-2012, 10:11 AM
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Re: Investigators Probe Mystery Disease Killing Cambodian Children

It always sucks when it's the kids dying off first. Futures destroyed.

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Old 07-07-2012, 12:08 PM
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Re: Investigators Probe Mystery Disease Killing Cambodian Children

wow... that would be fuckin terrifying to see your child go through.

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Old 07-07-2012, 02:16 PM
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Re: Investigators Probe Mystery Disease Killing Cambodian Children

Thanks Flaka. I had tried to read this on the Cambodian newspaper website but it was inundated apparently from interested readers. I couldn't read it.

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Old 07-07-2012, 02:39 PM
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Re: Investigators Probe Mystery Disease Killing Cambodian Children

People in some countries live much closer to livestock and Viruses can "jump" much easier, like bird flu.

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Old 07-07-2012, 04:10 PM
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Re: Investigators Probe Mystery Disease Killing Cambodian Children

Sounds bloody awful, whatever it is

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Old 07-09-2012, 02:59 PM
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Re: Investigators Probe Mystery Disease Killing Cambodian Children

A deadly form of a common childhood illness has been linked to many of the mysterious child deaths in Cambodia that caused alarm after a cause could not immediately be determined, health officials said Monday.

Lab tests have confirmed that a virulent strain of hand, foot and mouth disease known as EV-71 is to blame for many of the 59 cases reviewed, including 52 deaths, according to a joint statement from the World Health Organization and Cambodian Health Ministry. The numbers were lowered from the initial report of 62 cases.

EV-71 is a virus that can result in paralysis, brain swelling and death. Most of the Cambodian cases involved children under 3 who experienced fever, respiratory problems that quickly progressed and sometimes neurological symptoms.

Hand, foot and mouth disease has been raging across Asia, and usually causes a telltale rash. WHO spokeswoman Aphaluck Bhatiasevi said rashes were seen in only a few of the Cambodian cases, and it's possible that steroids administered by doctors could have masked the symptom.

The lab results also identified other diseases in some cases, including mosquito-borne dengue fever and Streptococcus suis, a germ commonly seen in pigs that sometimes infects people, often causing meningitis and hearing loss, Bhatiasevi said.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is spread by sneezing, coughing and contact with fluid from blisters or infected feces.

It is caused by a group of enteroviruses in the same family as polio. No vaccine or specific treatment exists, but illness is typically mild and most children recover quickly without problems.

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