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Enterovirus Blamed For Some Deaths Of Cambodian Children; Officials Continue To Investigate Mysterious Respiratory Illness

“Lab tests have confirmed that a virulent strain of hand, foot and mouth disease known as [enterovirus-71 (EV-71)] is to blame for some of the 59 cases [of mysterious illness among children in Cambodia] reviewed since April, including 52 deaths, according to a joint statement from the World Health Organization and Cambodian Health Ministry,” the Associated Press reports, noting that “[t]he numbers were lowered from the initial report of 62 cases” (Mason/Cheang, 7/9). “EV-71 is common in Asia, but Nima Asgari, a public health specialist for the WHO in Cambodia, told AFP he believed it had not been seen in this country before,” according to Agence France-Presse. “Asgari said identification of the strain was an important first step but stressed more tests were needed to learn if the deceased children also suffered from other viruses,” and Cambodian Health Minister Mam Bunheng “said an investigation into the illness was ongoing,” the news service notes (7/9).