Tainted Soda Blamed For Sickness in Cambodia's Kratie Province

cambodia-healthcare-equipment-inspection-dec-2014-1000.jpg Health experts inspect medical equipment in Cambodia's Roka commune in a separate case, Dec. 18, 2014.

An investigation is being sought in Cambodia's Kratie province over a mysterious illness that may have been caused by soft drinks.

A village family is asking local government officials to investigate the cause of what may be a food-borne illness that sickened seven people in the Sambo district of Kratie province, family members told RFA’s Khmer Service.

O Preah villager Chreuk Sokchan said that he and his family became violently ill on Jan. 3 after they drank four two-litre bottles of "NASA" soda that he had purchased for more than ten thousand riel (U.S.  $2.50). Soft drinks in Cambodia are often homemade or manufactured in small workshops.

Chreuk Sokchan said he and his family fell ill after drinking the sodas and were sent to the provincial hospital in neighboring  Stueng Traeng for treatment after local health care workers could do nothing for them. Some of his family were still being treated at the hospital on Jan. 12.

“Shortly after drinking we felt like we were poisoned,” he said. “Those who drank the soda lost their strength, and they had a different look in their eyes and were terrified during the night.”

Call for investigation

Kratie Provincial Hospital chief Chhneang Sovutha told RFA that hospital specialists will conduct an investigation to see if the soda caused the illness and will alert the populace to any potential danger.

“Medical care is supposed to educate people on their heath care,” he said. “There are many products that may cause danger—not just soda. Sometimes, the danger can come from various animal meats or from different types of food.”

O Kreang commune chief Keo Bopha said that the communal authorities have yet to receive any information regarding the case. He promised to intervene if the family had really been poisoned from drinking the beverage.

O Preah village is a part of O Kreang commune.

“I will go to O Preah village on my own to investigate the case and see if the news is true,” he said. “If so, we will decide what measures we should take next.”

In December as many as 19 people in Kratie province died and another 172 people sought emergency treatment after they drank rice wine tainted with methanol. Another five people died and 30 people were hospitalized in the province after consuming poisoned dog meat.

Reported by Men Chanthy for RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Pagnawath Khun. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.

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