Dengue Fever-Threatened Border Village Receives Bed Nets

March 10, 2005
By Erik Wasson

Koh andet district, Takeo Province - The dry-season rice paddies of Vietnam end about 20 km east of Chong Ankar village in Pich Sar commune. Tan-colored dust envelopes the village in the dry season and many villagers cough through their kramas while they wait for a free mosquito net.

Few mosquitoes are evident in March, but according to village chief Keo Loun, the rainy season brings meter-and-a-half deep flood waters and a deluge of mosquitoes. "Even the oxen must use the mosquito net because there are so many," he said Saturday.

Chong Ankar is not on the government's list of malaria-infested areas, but there have been some cases, Keo Loun said. "There were cases of malaria from villagers who visited Koh Kong," he said. "Villagers don't know that it is caused by mosquitoes; they think there is something in the water."

National Malaria Center Director Duong Socheat explained that the 700-person village was chosen for bed nets because several children have died of dengue fever recently. "The nets are for children to rest under during the day," he said.

Moung Hich, 40, lost three of her five children to dengue, one just last year. "They were all sons, one 4 years, one 3 years, one 2 years. The 4-year-old died last year," she said. "I took him to the hospital in town about 7 km away and he stayed there for one or two days. The hospital said that he should stay there but because I am so busy at home I took him home with enough medicine for two days. After three days he died."
Moung Hich said that if she could ask the government for anything it would be improved sanitation and a health center.

Duong Socheat explained that there are two types of dengue in Cambodia: Classic dengue, which is rarely fatal, and dengue hemorrhagic fever, which probably killed Moung Hich's children. "Blood transfusions are necessary when hemorrhaging," he said. "The signs are blood flowing from the nose and mouth due to coagulation in the small blood vessels. Within 7 days they will die without treatment...The private sector often gives the wrong treatment."

During the visit to Chong Ankar, officials discovered that four villagers had recently died of HIV/AIDS. Duong Socheat said that the discovery illustrates the difficulty of counting AIDS deaths, and the need to combine mosquito net distribution with AIDS programs.
Two parents had died in one family, leaving four orphans; and two parents died in another leaving two orphans