Unknown respiratory disease in Cambodia

Having listened to Radiolab describe the origins and early history of HIV yesterday, I found this press release particularly fascinating. The World Health Organization is investigating an outbreak of an unknown disease in Cambodia. The disease begins with a fever, then progresses into neurological symptoms and very quickly to respiratory failure. All the recorded cases have been in children. 62 children were admitted to hospitals with these symptoms. 61 have died. (I should note that this doesn't necessarily mean that whatever this is has a 98% kill rate. We're only talking about the people whose symptoms were severe enough that they ended up in a hospital. There could be many more asymptomatic or mild cases.) (Via John Rennie)


  1. Let’s hope a vaccine is quickly created, so that strident activists can rail against it and convince parents to have parties where their kids can get infected and sweat it out, the way nature intended. 

  2. I’m curious, how do “kill rate” statistics take into account the competence of the treatment center? I don’t know what it’s like in Cambodia, but there must be places in the world where health care is one step up from witch doctors. If a new disease shows up there, how do we count the people killed by the disease separately from the people killed by the treatment?

    Serious question. Mostly.

    1. I would guess by looking at patients in a hospital and their survival rate compared to the survival rate in some other country. I’m pretty sure WHO knows the numbers.

  3. This strikes me as interesting due to my brief obsession (infection?) last week by the iOS app Plague Inc., which does a good job of simulating the rise, spread, mutation, and global battle against a new disease.  

    One thing the game demonstrated in realistic fashion was how pathogens that come to light in poorer, more rural areas have a greater chance of spreading, since they remain unnoticed for longer, have more potential transmission vectors, and can take advantage of dirtier conditions and less effective healthcare systems.

  4. we have many scientist that can focus in this case that can prevent this neurological symptoms i hope that can prevent this circulatory failure dont lose hope god. is in ur side!

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