Sunday, July 10, 2016

Cambodia - Nearly 10 Deaths Linked to Wine

Eight people have died in Kampong Cham’s Kampong Siem district since the middle of last month, according to provincial health and ministry officials, who say a preliminary investigation has pointed to wine as the cause.

All residents of Krola commune’s Thmey village, the proximity of the victims’ homes prompted government officials as well as those from the World Health Organization (WHO) to investigate, Dr. Nhing Menghong, director of the Krola Health Center, told Khmer Times yesterday.

“Officials from the Health Ministry, Ministry of Handicrafts and Industry and the World Health Organization came down to investigate the case for four days and issued preliminary results saying that the deaths may be caused by rice wine or herbal wine poisoning. The ministry also took wine to make further investigations,” Dr. Menghong said, adding that the cause of the deaths was as yet unconfirmed.

He could not give a timeframe for when the results of the investigation into the seized wine would be released, but said the eight victims included three women and ranged in age from 30 to 66.

They all showed similar symptoms before passing away either at home or while in the hospital, including difficulty breathing, blurred vision and vomiting, Dr. Menghong said. The victims were reported to have drunk rice or herbal wine from a few hours to days before their deaths.

“After showing primary results on the villagers’ causes of death, the authority went directly to the village to distribute a notice to more than 600 families and also banned them from drinking rice wine or herbal wine until the cause of death is known officially,” Dr. Menghong said.

Drinking wine is common practice in Thmey village, where residents work primarily as loggers. Health officials are now monitoring the village for any signs of residents with symptoms matching those of the eight victims.

According to the notice distributed in Thmey village earlier this week, any resident who begins to show symptoms of alcohol poisoning should report to the nearest health center or hospital for treatment. It adds that the sale of rice and herbal wine in the village must be temporarily suspended until more information is known about the recent illnesses.

Last December, more than 20 people died and nearly 200 fell ill from methanol poisoning in three districts in Kratie after drinking rice wine, prompting responses from government officials all the way up to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

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