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Joint investigation on unknown disease in Cambodia concludes
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     The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (July 13) provided an update on an unknown disease in Cambodia with the conclusion of the Cambodian Ministry of Health (MoH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) after their joint investigation into the cause of the disease.

     According to the latest information from the Cambodian MoH and the WHO on July 12, a severe form of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) was the cause of the illnesses and deaths in the majority of the cases recently reported to the MoH in Cambodia.  
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     A CHP spokesman said: "Based on the investigation, a total of 78 cases were identified.  These included the initial 62 cases reported by a local children's hospital and the remaining cases reported from other hospitals.  Of these, the investigation focused on 61 cases that fitted the case definition, of which 54 had died.
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     "Laboratory samples were available for 31 patients. Of these, the majority tested positive for Enterovirus 71 (EV71).  A small proportion of samples also tested positive for other pathogens including Haemophilus Influenzae type B and Streptococcus suis."  
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     The investigation revealed that most of the cases were under 3 years old, with some suffering with chronic conditions and malnutrition. The cases were from 14 different provinces and many of them were given steroids at some point during their illness. Steroid use has been shown to worsen the condition of patients with EV71.
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     "EV71 is a statutory notifiable disease in Hong Kong. The infection is usually found among young children and most commonly presents with symptoms of HFMD. It may rarely cause more serious diseases, such as viral (aseptic) meningitis, encephalitis, poliomyelitis-like paralysis and myocarditis," the spokesman said.
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     A letter to doctors was issued today to keep them abreast of the latest developments and to alert them to remain vigilant about febrile patients returning from Cambodia with respiratory and/or neurological symptoms.

     The spokesman reminded members of the public to maintain vigilance on their health while travelling abroad.

     "CHP will continue to monitor developments and update the public," the spokesman said.

Ends/Friday, July 13, 2012
Issued at HKT 19:47

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