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Dengue fever to spread in Cambodia

More than hundred children were killed by dengue fever this year in Cambodia and it is expected that the disease will spread when the rainy season peaks during the next few months, health officials said Friday.

About 7,400 cases have already been reported this year, said Mam Bunheng, Cambodia's Deputy Minister of Health.

He said dengue fever has already killed 102 children, but that the disease has claimed no adult lives this year.

The government launched a nationwide education campaign Friday as part of efforts to keep the mosquito-born disease in check, pleading with people to keep their homes and yards free of stagnant water where mosquitoes can breed.

Last year dengue killed 158 children and 16,650 cases were reported, said Ngan Chantha, director of the National Anti-Dengue Fever Program under the Ministry of Health.

He said the death toll could get much worse at the height of the rainy season, in July and August.

Dengue is a chronic problem in Cambodia, but due to early rains the number of cases is already high this year and could prove to be much worse than last year, said Chang Moh Seng, a dengue control officer at the World Health Organization in Cambodia.

"From the cases reported and the number of deaths, I think the situation is worse than last year," Chang said.

The WHO is working with the Ministry of Health to promote dengue education in schools and local communities.

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