Health Ministry Reports Chikungunya Fever Outbreak in Poipet

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Chikungunya mosquito (CDC Global)

The Health Ministry on Thursday reported an outbreak of the mosquito-borne illness chikungunya fever after testing samples from more than 100 people in Poipet City, some of whom were found positive for the viral disease.

People in six villages in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet commune showed signs of illness beginning on Sunday, including fever, skin rash and joint pain, according to a ministry statement.

“Currently, besides Covid-19 there is another disease called [chikungunya] that has reoccurred in Banteay Meanchey. It could be another public health issue,” the statement said.

Health professionals conducted visits to six villages and people’s homes, checking 168 people with symptoms, 32 of whom were sent to a health center or the Poipet Referral Hospital, the ministry said.

Health officials collected blood samples from 22 people to test for chikungunya, 60 people to test for rubella, also known as German measles, and 22 others to test for Covid-19.

Initial test results from Pasteur Institute in Phnom Penh showed that a number of samples tested positive for chikungunya fever on Wednesday. Health Ministry officials could not be reached on Thursday to confirm how many people tested positive for chikungunya, a mostly nonfatal, but painful illness.

Chikungunya was first documented in Cambodia in 1961, with an infection rate of 60 to 70 percent in the country during the 1960s, according to the ministry statement. Cambodia experienced a chikungunya pandemic in 2011 and 2012 across nine provinces and Phnom Penh.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), those who contract chikungunya usually experience an abrupt onset of fever often accompanied by severe joint pain, as well as muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash. Most patients fully recover.

The mosquitos involved in spreading the virus bite during daylight hours, and illness usually occurs within four to eight days of infection, but can begin within two to 12 days, WHO said.

Health Minister Mam Bunheng said in the statement that efforts to prevent chikungunya transmission were similar to dengue prevention methods, including avoiding mosquito bites and clearing out standing water where the insects breed.

The minister also urged people who show symptoms to visit their nearest health center or referral hospital.

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