Cambodia: fatal illness in children now linked to enterovirus 71Archived

epidemiological update

The Cambodian Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) are currently investigating a number of cases an undiagnosed illness that has resulted in the deaths of several children in Cambodia in the past 2 months. According to the WHO, the latest laboratory results indicate that “a significant proportion of the samples tested positive for Enterovirus 71 (EV-71), which causes hand foot and mouth disease”.

The Cambodian Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) are currently investigating a number of cases an undiagnosed illness that has resulted in the deaths of several children in Cambodia in the past 2 months. According to the WHO, the latest laboratory results indicate that “a significant proportion of the samples tested positive for Enterovirus 71 (EV-71), which causes hand foot and mouth disease”.

Although the laboratory samples were not available for all the cases, as a number of children died before appropriate samples could be taken, a significant proportion of those where specimens were available tested positive for EV-71. This virus has been known to cause severe disease with complications. Samples tested negative for influenza A(H5N1) (‘bird flu’)  other influenza viruses, SARS and Nipah viruses.

In their latest update, the authorities revised the number of hospitalised children believed to be affected by the illness between April and 5 July 2012 to a total of 59. Out of these, 52 have died. The majority of the cases reported are in children under 3 years of age.

The WHO, supported by the Pasteur Institute of Cambodia and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is assisting the Cambodian Ministry of Health with early warning surveillance data, laboratory and field investigations. Further investigations are ongoing, including the correlation between the laboratory and epidemiological information. ECDC will continue to monitor the situation.

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