Emergency Messages and Public Announcements
Update on Illness in Cambodian ChildrenThe World Health Organization (WHO) and the Cambodian Ministry of Health (MOH) released an update on Sunday, July 8, on the active investigation of the undiagnosed illness affecting children in Cambodia. The MOH identified 59 hospitalized cases, of which 52 had died. The age of affected children ranged from 3 months to 11 years old, with the majority being under 3 years of age. Based on the latest laboratory results, a number of samples tested positive for enterovirus 71 (EV71). EV71 is recognized as a cause of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD).
HFMD is a common viral illness that causes frequent outbreaks. It usually affects children and is characterized by fever, blister-like sores in the mouth, and a skin rash. In outbreaks of EV71, most children have typical symptoms of HFMD and recover without health complications. However, a small number of people with this disease develop severe complications (e.g., meningitis or encephalitis) requiring hospitalization or causing death.
How is EV71 transmitted? EV71 spreads from person to person by direct contact with the infectious virus that causes this disease. This virus is found in nose and throat secretions (such as saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus), fluid in blisters, and in the stool of infected persons. The virus may also be spread when infected persons touch objects and surfaces that are then touched by others.
Infected persons are most contagious during the first week of the illness. The virus can remain in the body for weeks after a person’s symptoms have gone away. This means that infected people can still pass the infection to others even though they may appear well. Also, some people who are infected and spreading the virus, including most adults, may have no symptoms.
HFMD is not transmitted to or from pets or other animals.
How do you prevent infection? There is no vaccine to protect against the virus that causes HFMD. A person can lower their risk of being infected by:
- Washing hands often with soap and water, especially after changing diapers and using the toilet.
- Disinfecting dirty surfaces and soiled items, including toys. First wash the items with soap and water; then disinfect them with a solution of chlorine bleach (made by mixing 1 tablespoon of bleach and 4 cups of water).
- Avoiding close contact such as kissing, hugging, or sharing eating utensils or cups with people with HFMD.
More information can be found on the CDC’s website: http://www.cdc.gov/hand-foot-mouth/index.html
WHO and partners, including Institut Pasteur du Cambodge, Kantha Bopha hospital, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are assisting the MOH with the ongoing investigation.
We encourage you notify us of your presence in Cambodia by enrolling in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
The American Citizen Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy is located at #1 Street 96, Phnom Penh, Cambodia and can be reached by calling 023-728-000, or by e-mailing ACSPhnomPenh@State.gov.