Photo: Within the grounds of the Royal Palace.

Cambodia forum

'Mysterious disease'- Is traveling with kids to Cambodia wise?

Posted by natsuyasumi on 9/7/2012 at 18:05

We are planning to travel to Cambodia at the end of this month with our 3 kids: 4,6,11. However, since we started hearing about this 'mysterious disease', we are wondering if it is better to reconsider our trip to cambodia. I am sure there are many expats living in Cambodia with children. I wonder if I can hear their opinions on this and what kind of precautions they have been advised to take.

Thank you

#1 natsuyasumi has been a member since 9/7/2012. Posts: 2

Posted by busylizzy on 9/7/2012 at 18:52

I can't really offer any advise, sorry, but just wanted to share more of the background story with anyone else reading this post. It featured in our local paper recently:

"The World Health Organization (WHO) is helping Cambodia investigate the cause of an unknown disease that has killed at least 60 children under seven years old, most of whom died within 24 hours of being admitted to hospital."

#2 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,152
 Send busylizzy a private message   Where has busylizzy been? 

Agoda coupon: Get an extra 7% off selected properties with the coupon code

Posted by caseyprich on 9/7/2012 at 21:56

Appears to be a strain of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. Most serious for children under 5 according to the article, children under 3 most affected in Cambodia.

#3 caseyprich has been a member since 3/3/2010. Location: China. Posts: 1,281
 Send caseyprich a private message   Where has caseyprich been? 

Posted by phuphum on 10/7/2012 at 01:07

As the father of an eight yer old girl and nine year old boy living locally in rural Cambodia I share your concern. Here is an alert from the American Embassy

July 10, 2012

Update on Illness in Cambodian Children

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Cambodian Ministry of Health (MOH) released an update on Sunday, July 8, on the active investigation of the undiagnosed illness affecting children in Cambodia. The MOH identified 59 hospitalized cases, of which 52 had died. The age of affected children ranged from 3 months to 11 years old, with the majority being under 3 years of age. Based on the latest laboratory results, a number of samples tested positive for enterovirus 71 (EV71). EV71 is recognized as a cause of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD). HFMD is a common viral illness that causes frequent outbreaks. It usually affects children and is characterized by fever, blister-like sores in the mouth, and a skin rash. In outbreaks of EV71, most children have typical symptoms of HFMD and recover without health complications. However, a small number of people with this disease develop severe complications (e.g., meningitis or encephalitis) requiring hospitalization or causing d

How is EV71 transmitted? EV71 spreads from person to person by direct contact with the infectious virus that causes this disease. This virus is found in nose and throat secretions (such as saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus), fluid in blisters, and in the stool of infected persons. The virus may also be spread when infected persons touch objects and surfaces that are then touched by others.

Infected persons are most contagious during the first week of the illness. The virus can remain in the body for weeks after a person's symptoms have gone away. This means that infected people can still pass the infection to others even though they may appear well. Also, some people who are infected and spreading the virus, including most adults, may have no symptoms.

HFMD is not transmitted to or from pets or other animals.

How do you prevent infection? There is no vaccine to protect against the virus that causes HFMD. A person can lower their risk of being infected by:

- Washing hands often with soap and water, especially after changing diapers and using the toilet.
- Disinfecting dirty surfaces and soiled items, including toys. First wash the items with soap and water; then disinfect them with a solution of chlorine bleach (made by mixing 1 tablespoon of bleach and 4 cups of water).
- Avoiding close contact such as kissing, hugging, or sharing eating utensils or cups with people with HFMD.

If you or your child has a fever, rash, or experiences difficulty in breathing you should contact a healthcare professional.

More information can be found on the CDC's website:

WHO and partners, including Institut Pasteur du Cambodge, Kantha Bopha hospital, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are assisting the MOH with the ongoing investigation.

We encourage you notify us of your presence in Cambodia by enrolling in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

The American Citizen Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy is located at #1 Street 96, Phnom Penh, Cambodia and can be reached by calling 023-728-000, or by e-mailing

#4 phuphum has been a member since 22/10/2011. Posts: 49

Posted by natsuyasumi on 10/7/2012 at 04:22

Thank you very much for the response.
I know at least now what I should watch out for.

#5 natsuyasumi has been a member since 9/7/2012. Posts: 2

Posted by worldnomad on 10/7/2012 at 08:31

CNN has a good introduction video to this:

To note: They are not sure it is EV71 yet (as of July 10th) and more tests are needed, some of the symptoms and spread of the disease do not match what is expected for EV71. It is an extremely small percentage of children, the alarming thing is that almost all the children admitted with the symptoms have died (64 out of 66) and go from initial symptoms to death within 2 days.

#6 worldnomad has been a member since 29/10/2005. Posts: 5

Posted by MADMAC on 10/7/2012 at 13:51

Is it all over Cambodia or is the outbreak in a specific geograghic part of the country? If it's geograghic specific, I'd just avoid that area. But if it's not, I think I'd skip Cambodia and go somewhere else this go round. I have a five year old daughter and to me, at least, the benefit isn't worth the risk.

#7 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
 Send MADMAC a private message 

Please login to add a reply

You need to be a Travelfish member to be able to add a reply to this post. Please use the button below to log in. After logging in you'll be returned to this page automatically to add your post. Not a member? Join up here.