There's disturbing news out of Cambodia, where the World Health Organization has ramped up its efforts to figuring out the mystery disease that has, so far, claimed the lives of at least 61 children in the country. "Children admitted to the hospital with symptoms including high fever, breathing difficulty and neurological problems saw their respiratory function worsen quickly," said a WHO official in a report by Bloomberg's Jason Gale. "A review of 57 cases found 46 of them died within 24 hours of admission, with the rest suffering the same fate within three days, she said. The stricken children were aged three months to seven years." That mortality rate is alarming and consistent with CNN's report by Madison Park, and the account from Dr. Beat Richner, of the Kantha Bopha Children's Hospitals who knew of 64 cases, in which only two children have survived.
Perhaps scarier than the mortality rate is that Cambodian health officials and WHO are equally stumped by the disease. The current theory out there, according to Joy Rivaca Caminade, a technical officer with WHO who is in touch with Bloomberg, is that it's a combination of different diseases, and so far there's no evidence that it's spreading person-to-person. Caminade also added that it's unlikely influenza.
"As you can imagine, this will take time and we are still at the data analysis part," Nima Asgari, who's in charge of WHO's disease surveillance in Cambodia, said in an e-mail to Bloomberg.