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Many Succumb to Diarrhea in Prolonged Heat

Serious diarrhea pushed by a prolonged hot season has killed at least 35 villagers since March, including two who died in Kampong Cham province on Wednesday, officials said.

The most serious cases occurred in Ratanakkiri province, where 15 people died in just over two weeks in April. And since March, seven total have died in Kampong Cham province, five in Kratie, four in Battambang, and two each in Prey Veng and Kampong Chhnang, according to provincial health officials.

The officials say the villagers drank water or ate food infected with microbes exacerbated by high temperatures. Cambodia is undergoing a prolonged hot season, which began in late March and has continued into May, when little rain has fallen.

Typically, Cambodians expect rainfall sometime shortly after Khmer New Year, in mid-April.

Minister of Health Mam Bunheng is now urging provincial offices to monitor the development of diarrhea outbreaks, following Wednesday’s deaths in Kampong Cham.

In that case, two people died in a rural village called Trapeang Chua in Chamkar Leur district, near the border of central Kampong Thom province. In that village, 185 villagers alone have severe diarrhea, according to Yim Navy, deputy chief of the district health center.

Sok Touch, chief of the Ministry of Health’s infectious disease department, said he and other health officials took a delivery of serum and medicine to the area Thursday morning.

Health officials are now meeting with villagers to explain to them proper hygiene and food preparation. Health officials say people should urinate and defecate in proper toilets, keep their houses clean and be careful with cooking and cleaning water.