Senior officials from the Ministry of Health urge the public to be wary of seven infectious diseases that could flare up during the rainy season.

These diseases include dengue fever, malaria, influenza, typhoid fever, food and waterborne infections, cholera, and leptospirosis, also known as Weil disease.

This alert was recently relayed by Ly Sovann, director of the ministry’s Communicable Disease Control (CDC) department.

“People need to prioritise their health. When travelling in the rain, they should wear raincoats, use umbrellas and wear water-appropriate shoes,” he said.

“It’s crucial to shower after being exposed to the rain, to drink warm water or hot soup, and to maintain personal hygiene. Eating a healthy, nutritious diet that’s rich in vitamin C found in fruits like guavas, ripe papayas, ripe bananas, oranges, and in dark green vegetables and tomatoes is also key,” he added.

For those suffering from the flu, Sovann advised: “Wear a face mask or use a scarf or towel to cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, drink at least two litres of water a day even before you feel thirsty, and frequently wash hands with soap.”

He also highlighted the importance of preventing disease transmission to family members and others. “Avoid coughing on your palms as it can spread to others through handshakes or shared objects. If you lack a cover, cough into your elbow.”

He further emphasised the importance of eliminating breeding grounds for mosquito larvae and tiger mosquitoes (Aedes albopictus), such as discarded car tyres, dried coconut shells and objects storing water, as a measure to protect children from dengue fever. Durable mosquito nets and protective clothing such as long sleeves are also recommended.

Regarding Covid-19, Sovann reiterated calls for people to wear face masks during gatherings and in enclosed areas.

He stressed the importance of frequent hand washing using soap and water or alcohol-based sanitiser, as a means to stave off the virus, regardless of the relatively low new case count in Cambodia.

Ky Sunty, director of Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital, urged parents to be especially mindful of three diseases prevalent among children: dengue fever, silicosis and pneumonia.

These diseases can pose a significant risk to children.

“Parents and guardians must ensure their children live in clean and hygienic environments. When health issues such as fever arise, consult a professional doctor at the health centre or referral hospitals. Avoid self-medication as it can be life-threatening,” he advised.

This year has seen a surge in dengue fever cases compared to previous years.

According to the ministry’s National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control, Cambodia reported nearly 4,700 cases of dengue fever and 10 deaths from the disease in the first half of 2023, almost double the figure for the same period in 2022.

The country is bracing for an even higher number of dengue cases this year, with at least 20,000 anticipated, more than the over 12,500 cases reported in 2022. This comes close to a cycle of large-scale dengue outbreaks last seen in 2019.