Health Highlights: July 5, 2012

Dengue Cases Rise Sharply in Puerto Rico WHO Probing Mystery Illness Killing Cambodian Children

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Dengue Cases Rise Sharply in Puerto Rico

Cases of painful dengue fever are occurring at above-average levels in Puerto Rico, according to the territory's Health Secretary, Lorenzo Gonzalez.

He said that 111 cases of the mosquito-borne disease were reported the first week of June, and 117 cases the prior week. Eight people have come down with the more severe hemorrhagic form of dengue, although no one has died, the Associated Press reported.

According to Gonzalez, improvements in educating doctors to spot dengue fever may account for the rise in cases, which usually peak in Puerto Rico in early October.

Dengue causes fever, severe headaches and sometimes excruciating joint and muscle pain. An epidemic of the disease killed a record 31 people in Puerto Rico in 2010, the AP said.


WHO Probing Mystery Illness Killing Cambodian Children

It's unclear whether a mystery illness that's causing the deaths of Cambodian children is a new entity or a mixture of known diseases, an expert with the World Health Organization (WHO) told the Associated Press Thursday.

So far, the disease has proven fatal to 61 of 62 children hospitalized since April, but it does not seem to be contagious. The illness, which strikes mostly children under 7 years of age, typically involves high fever that is followed by severe respiratory symptoms that quickly become worse. Some children also have neurological symptoms, the AP said.

The WHO's Dr. Nima Asgari, based in Phnom Penh, said health workers are examining the children's records to try and get clues to the nature of the disease.

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