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Global Alert: Undiagnosed Deadly Illness in Cambodia

Posted by feww on July 5, 2012

Mysterious new disease kills scores of children in Cambodia: WHO

A mysterious new illness has killed dozens of children in Cambodia, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported.

The symptoms start with high fever, followed by encephalitis, a swelling of the brain, leading to failure of the lungs and death.

  • It takes 24 hours or less from the onset of symptoms to death.
  • The victims were all under 7.
  • Cases have been reported in 14 Cambodian provinces.
  • The disease apparently has a death rate of greater than 98 percent.
  • A Global Health Alert issued by WHO is posted below.

The majority of cases were from the southern part of the country, and the victims were hospitalized in Kantha Bopha children’s hospitals in the capital Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, according to reports.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of a brain with encephalitis. It has resulted in a large lesion (orange). Source: NHS/UK

WHO has issued the following Global Alert:

Global Alert: Undiagnosed illness in Cambodia

4 July 2012 – The Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Cambodia has notified WHO of an outbreak of an undiagnosed illness which has affected 62 children, of which 61 have died since April 2012.

The majority of cases were from the southern part of the country, and were hospitalised in a children’s hospital in Phnom Penh. The symptoms observed are high fever, followed by respiratory and/or neurologic symptoms with rapid deterioration of respiratory functions.

WHO is working with the Ministry and other partners to investigate the outbreak, to identify the cause and source of the illness. Assistance is being provided in the area of field epidemiology and active case finding.

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