Mystery Disease Killing Dozens Of Children In Cambodia Linked To Virulent Strain Of Hand, Foot And Mouth Disease
Associated Press – “PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — A deadly form of a common childhood illness has been linked to the mysterious child deaths in Cambodia that sparked alarm after a cause could not immediately be determined, health officials said Monday.
Lab tests have confirmed that a virulent strain of hand, foot and mouth disease known as EV-71 is to blame for some of the 59 cases reviewed since April, including 52 deaths, according to a joint statement from the World Health Organization and Cambodian Health Ministry. The numbers were lowered from the initial report of 62 cases.
EV-71 is a virus that can result in paralysis, brain swelling and death. Most of the Cambodian cases involved children younger than 3 who experienced fever, respiratory problems that led to rapid shutdown and sometimes neurological symptoms.
Epidemiologists are still trying to piece together information about the cases by interviewing parents because some details may have been omitted or missing from medical charts and specimens were not taken from most children before they died, said Dr. Nima Asgari, who is leading the WHO investigation. Of 24 samples tested, 15 came back positive for EV-71.
‘As far as I’m aware, EV-71 was not identified as a virus in Cambodia before,’ Asgari said, adding that based on the information now available it’s likely that the majority of untested patients were infected with it.” Read more.