PH warned of unknown respiratory disease in Cambodia

By Sheila Crisostomo, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 06 2012 08:04 AM | Updated as of Jul 07 2012 02:25 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines and neighboring countries have been warned of an “unknown respiratory disease” that has killed 61 children in Cambodia.

In a statement, the World Health Organization (WHO) said the disease has “neurological symptoms” and the Cambodia Ministry of Health was first alerted about this “by the physician of Khanta Bopha Children’s Hospital in Phnom Penh.”

“WHO is closely monitoring the situation and is providing technical assistance to Ministry of Health on field epidemiology, clinical management and active case finding,” said Dr. Nima Asgari, team leader of the WHO Country Office in Cambodia.

The disease starts with high fever, followed by respiratory and/or neurological symptoms with rapid deterioration of respiratory functions.

A majority of the cases came from southern part of Cambodia and no apparent clustering of cases had been observed so far.

Cambodia Minister of Health H.E. Man Bung Heng said the “MoH and the WHO are currently investigating the cases and possible causes of the disease are being considered but definite identification of the cause and source may take some time.”

The WHO said the neighboring countries of Cambodia “have already been officially informed through a posting made through the International Health Regulations (IHR) event information system.

“Cases of severe respiratory disease with neurological symptoms have been reported to the Ministry of Health,” the WHO said.