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Cambodia shuts all schools to fight virus spread

    Cambodian villagers line up to wait for a medical check-up for children outside Kuntha Bopha children's hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday, July 11, 2012. The enterovirus 71 strain, or EV-71, raised fears earlier this week after it was detected in some lab samples taken after 52 of 59 Cambodian children died suddenly from a mystery illness that sparked international alarm. Health officials are still investigating, but say the virus is likely to blame. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia >> Cambodia is closing all kindergarten and primary schools two weeks before a regular vacation to try to stop the spread of a virus that has killed hundreds of young children around Asia.

Deputy Education Minister Mak Van said more than 2,700 kindergartens and 7,000 primary schools closed Wednesday to try to cope with the menacing form of hand, foot and mouth disease known as enterovirus 71 strain, or EV-71.

The victims sometimes suffer high fever, brain swelling, paralysis and respiratory shutdown, though they may have been infected by people with few or no symptoms. The recent deaths of almost 60 Cambodian children raised the alarm over the disease.

Vietnam and China have also had outbreaks. And in neighboring Thailand, three schools in Bangkok closed Wednesday over new cases in students.

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