Dengue fever deaths in Cambodia so far this year have eclipsed fatalities in 2006 as the country battles one of the worst outbreaks of the disease in a decade, medical officials said Thursday.
Some 182 fatalities have been recorded for the first half of this year out of 14,986 cases, said Ngan Chantha, director of the health ministry's dengue program. Last year 152 deaths were reported.
"The disease is continuing to spread, but it is a little bit better than before," he told AFP, adding that Siem Reap province, home to the Angkor temples, a tourist drawcard, was the worst affected.
Medical staff have been sent to the countryside to reinforce poorly equipped and staffed rural clinics.
But ignorance remains the biggest challenge in combating the outbreak, Ngan Chantha said.
"People are still ignoring the issue so we cannot tackle this problem. They need to take better care of sanitation in their homes," he said.
"Medical staff cannot clean their houses for them."
Dengue fever is on the rise around Southeast Asia with neighbouring Thailand recording 19,000 cases and 18 deaths so far this year. Wealthy Singapore has seen 4,029 cases and three deaths.
The mosquito-borne virus is usually associated with poorer tropical countries. The disease leads to a sudden onset of fever with severe headaches, muscle and joint pains, and rashes.