As reported earlier, a mysterious "nodding disease" has been killing children in Uganda, south Sudan and Tanzania. Cambodia now has its own disease that is killing children. While it is not "nodding disease," it is nonetheless baffling doctors. So far, 64 children under the age of 7 have died over the past three months. It has prompted the World Health Organization to issue an alarm in a country already stretched thin by epidemics of other diseases.
There are few clinics in the country to deal with deadly diseases and now, with word of the latest one, thousands of people stand in line, waiting to see a doctor. Doctors have recorded the same path of symptoms: first a fever, then swelling of the brain, and then the sudden destruction of a child's lungs.
Dr. Beat Richner, Head of Kantha Bopha Children's Hospital in Phnom Penh , says that all of the cases occurred there. He said that out of 66 case, 64 were fatal.
Medical labs have been running every possible test, ruling out common pneumonia, bird flu, and other contagious diseases. What doctors have noticed is that it has not spread to others in the wards, leading some to suspect that bad or counterfeit drugs are to blame. Still, the World Health Organization is not ruling out that this is a new disease.
While doctors say that the mysterious illness is of serious concern, it should not overshadow other dangerous illnesses sweeping the country. A Dengue fever epidemic has taken hold of the country's young. More than 5,000 were hospitalized last month alone. Scores have died.