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List of concerns with regard to a sudden move to Cambodia?


blondesurferboy

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I'm currently married and living in Japan, but in the near future I will get divorced and move to Cambodia to teach English there or work better jobs that might be available.

I'm aware that it is possible and cheap to apply for and buy a work visa when you arrive at the airport, but is immigration in Cambodia really strict? Will they be suspicious of me if I'm a US citizen that was married in Japan when they see things like my Japanese spouse visa in my wallet, etc.? It seems ridiculous, but I always want to know about a country's customs/immigration before I fly there.

I talked with a friend of a friend on a Skype call and he mentioned that it isn't easy to find English teaching jobs and that there is a lot of competition due to a flooding of foreigners...is this really the case?

Are there places where I would be able to use cheap/free wifi using my own laptop?

I have also read that people say that break-ins and robberies in the streets are common and to expect them? Is this true and is this the case for the big cities such as PP or SR? I have a really expensive laptop and a lot of luggage that I don't want to have stolen from me as soon as I leave the airport or a couple days/weeks down the road...

I'm have been to dangerous countries as a tourist before, but I have never lived in a dangerous country before (violent crime). I lived in China and only had one violent experience while living there almost 4 years. Would it be safe living in either Phnom Penh or Siem Reap?

Another big concern is the water/food/people. People living there have told me that I shouldn't worry about getting dengue fever or malaria from the mosquitoes in the big cities, but what about the bottled drinks? Is it easy to get Hepatitis A or B? Are there any other serious illnesses there I should worry about with regard to moving there? I have had my routine vaccinations (D-TAP) a little over a year ago, but not for Hep A,B, dengue, etc. Is this a really bad move or could I just cheaply have the vaccinations at a local clinic after my arrival?

Are there rabies-infected animals roaming the streets of PP or SR?

I'm apologize for all the stupid questions, it is just because I'm most likely moving there on really short notice and nervous about it (possibly a little paranoid as well). I would appreciate any advice or help from anyone who is familiar with the country and its environment.
icon_user_online.gifwhiteboy 440 newbie - handle with care Posts: 8 Joined: Tue May 27, 2014 1:33 pm
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OK. There are no business visas (it's an ordinary visa and it does not come with a work permit - that needs buying separately if you can't find someone to pay for it as a condition of employment). The Cambodian authorities could not give less of a **** about where you are from, where you have lived or who you married if they tried. Their only concern is; "do you have enough money to pay for the visa (plus possibly a small bribe)?"

If you are a qualified teacher; teaching jobs, while not plentiful, are pretty easy to come by. If you're another ESL only kind of person - the jobs are there but they pay badly and it will take you a while to find a good job (crappy ones remain easy to find).

Free Wi-Fi is available in every coffee shop and restaurant in major cities.

Break ins and street robberies are common. The better a place is to live in; the more security it will have. I've never had a break in in Cambodia but I paid a huge premium for accommodation too... about half the people I know have had some sort of break in there.

I was robbed last week in PP by a snatch and grab thief though... so street crime is real. If I'd been more careful though - it wouldn't have happened. I should know better than to carry electronics without securing them to my person and on the street side of a pavement. You don't have to be a victim if you don't want to be.

I've never felt unsafe in PP or SR (and I've lived in both). Violent crime against foreigners is rare in Cambodia. Foreigner-on-foreigner crime is more likely and still pretty rare.

Dengue is real and you can catch it anywhere including in big cities. You will not get Malaria in big cities - there's a difference between the two. The chances of catching dengue are small but real. Yes, rabies is a big problem in Cambodia. No, unless you live in the sticks - you won't find rabid animals on the prowl in SR or PP. Rabies vaccination is an excellent idea but you will need boosters if you do get bitten. Living in Asia without Hep A or B vaccination is simply daft - including living in Japan. Get them done.

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+1 to the above and would add:

Health:

get Japanese B encephalitis vaccine, the pre-exposure rabies vaccine and Hepatitis vaccines. Depending on your age you may already have had Hep A vaccine, if not get it and also hep B if not yet. All of these are a series, start them before you leave and then can get the remainder in PP at the Pasteur Institute if necessary.

Bottled drinks are fine. Malaria is almost eradicated except in forested border areas, not a threat, but dengue is quite possible. Not much now but will increase in and after the rainy season.

Wifi:

Most guesthouses/hotels provide free wifi.

Visa/WP:

Make sure that the visa you get on arrival is "ordinary" visa not tourist visa as the latter can't be extended. Then find job and get work permit. Visa extension is easy and can be handled by any travel agent. many guesthouses also do it.

Safety:

As SR mentioned, lots of theft. Don't try to save money by using a moto taxi or tuk tuk when you have to carry bags, computer etc with you - take an actual taxi. They will snatch things right out of tuk tuks and off people on motos, often causing an accident in the process. Don't wear an expensive watch and avoid taking out your wallet when walking down the street, likewise your phone if it is at all expensive. I always duck into a store first before answering or making a call. Keep your passport and valuables locked in a safe if your guesthouse has one (hopefully they will). Don't walk around with more money than you need, and be careful when leaving ATMs...the ones outside banks are best as they are usually guarded. If for some reason you have to make a large withdrawal of cash, try to arrange to take a car/taxi immediately afterwards rather than walking. Thieves target people leaving banks/ATMs.

In the cheaper guesthouses, may need to be a bit wary of your fellow guests (the Cambodian management will be fine).

As soon as you get a job, open a local bank account and limit cash withdrawals to immediate needs so that you never have too much cash on you or in your room.

With precautions such as the above, you can usually avoid being victim of a theft, and theft is the main crime to consider.

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Are there specific downtown areas, hotels, guesthouses, apartments, cafes and restaurants you guys would recommend in terms of safety (from crime and picking up Hep A)?

I have heard that there is an area where expats all typically live, but I forgot the name.

Vaccinations here in Japan costs way too much money, so I'm considering having them done in PP or SR really soon after my arrival? I have heard of people that have done this?

I'm not the best with people, but I'm not a bad guy. Are foreigners that are a little socially awkward, yet friendly often a target for trouble? I keep to myself, but I'm social. I try not to step on anyone's toes or make a scene. I still want to ask because I have read horror stories of expats who were more than careful end up in completely insane situations...

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I think you're being a bit paranoid about Cambodia. I actually believe Phnom Penh to be a lot safer than Bangkok, for instance. I go anywhere I want, anytime of the day without fear. If I'm out and about after 11 PM I will use a tuk tuk instead of walking. If you're carrying bags or luggage I would find one that has wiremesh around the cab's rear seating area. This will stop a thieving hand reaching in from a passing motorbike.

Having coffee at the Blue Pumpkin coffee shop last week, I witnessed a snatch and grab across the street Riverside. 3 Barang, 2 female 1 male, decided to stop and sit, and as one of the girls was taking off her backpack 2 Khmer punks on a motorbike rode by, the one wriding pillion snatched at the bag. As he was pulling it away she grabbed onto one strap which sent her flying to the pavement. The bike, now wobbly, went several feet more and then toppled over, giving the male Barang time to grab the pack back. The two thieves got back up on the bike and sped away. No one attempted to interfere with them. The girl appeared to have a skinned knee but she got her backpack back (probably containing most of her traveling worldly goods.)

When walking on the streets I carry one bag which I sling across my chest and always reposition to be on the nearest sidewalk side. It's just common sense. And I never had any trouble. When taking money from an ATM I use the same one every time at the UCB bank on street 130. It has a secure street side booth and a guard positioned in front.

Just use your StreetSmarts and you'll be OK.

Yes get all your shots. If you're uncertain about which ones to get, go to the CDC website and just click on Cambodia. You'll be provided with a complete list including inoculation time schedules.

PP is a great place to live. Relatively safe and affordable. Enjoy.

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How long have you guys been living in Cambodia?

Have any of you ever been infected with dengue or anything else? I don't want to sound like an ignorant jerk, but the hospitals and clinics use new in the package needles that are sterilized for all vaccinations yes? I ask because I know in China, there have been cases where hospitals have used and reused the same needles in multiple patients...pretty creepy stuff.

I also want to avoid the prostitutes and definitely all underage girls. Do the local women tend to be interested in Caucasian men (other than for money)? Most of the women here in Japan are completely uninterested and are xenophobic/racist for the most part. I had a better experience in China, but I'm hoping Cambodia will be an enjoyable life experience. I have been to SEA Asia once before (all over Thailand and Laos) and loved the region.

Thankfully, I do have a lot of street smarts due to a lot of travel and living abroad, but I'm a really small dude. I'm not physically strong, so I thought I might be a target for violent crimes. The gunpoint robberies freak me out the most...those are not as common as snatch and grabs I hope?

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I'm sure you will be fine! I find Sihanoukville a bit disturbing and I would not advise going to live in the jungle unless you have some mission!

Take, as TV members have said, all the sensible precautions.

Definitely make sure your vaccinations are up do date and kept so.

Don't be a cheap skate. Rent a room with air con or at least mosquito nets.

Insure everything. Both health and property.

Make back-ups on sticks of everything on your computer and phone. Buy a cheap phone to use in the street. Lock up your smart phone and computer in your guest house! Make copies of everything. Don't carry a wallet. Keep money in your socks or knickers! Make sure you have a variety of cards if one goes "missing". Have $500 stashed somewhere very private! Don't forget where!

Need to remember even your clothes and trainers are someone's monthly income if not more!

Don't do daft things like walk around and take open tuk tuks after dark.

Find someone to look after you who knows the score! But like everywhere don't necessarily trust them either!

PP is a great place. None of this difficult to do?! All these things you would do anywhere! But of course it is neither Japan nor San Francisco.

Good luck

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How long have you guys been living in Cambodia?

Have any of you ever been infected with dengue or anything else? I don't want to sound like an ignorant jerk, but the hospitals and clinics use new in the package needles that are sterilized for all vaccinations yes? I ask because I know in China, there have been cases where hospitals have used and reused the same needles in multiple patients...pretty creepy stuff.

I also want to avoid the prostitutes and definitely all underage girls. Do the local women tend to be interested in Caucasian men (other than for money)? Most of the women here in Japan are completely uninterested and are xenophobic/racist for the most part. I had a better experience in China, but I'm hoping Cambodia will be an enjoyable life experience. I have been to SEA Asia once before (all over Thailand and Laos) and loved the region.

Thankfully, I do have a lot of street smarts due to a lot of travel and living abroad, but I'm a really small dude. I'm not physically strong, so I thought I might be a target for violent crimes. The gunpoint robberies freak me out the most...those are not as common as snatch and grabs I hope?

I lived in Cambodia for four years but have recently shifted to Thailand. High-end expat style clinics are generally clean but if you can get your vaccinations done in Japan; do them there.

Avoiding prostitutes in Siem Reap is easy, in Phnom Penh they are an established part of night life and next to impossible to avoid if you intend to hang out with other English teachers. Khmer women will date foreigners but you need to offer security and stability - otherwise the ones you date will be hookers with longer-term objectives.

Gunpoint robbery happens once in a blue moon to foreigners. Usually to the Japanese for some reason that I am yet to fathom but probably involves flashing too much cash publicly.

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Are there specific downtown areas, hotels, guesthouses, apartments, cafes and restaurants you guys would recommend in terms of safety (from crime and picking up Hep A)?

I have heard that there is an area where expats all typically live, but I forgot the name.

Vaccinations here in Japan costs way too much money, so I'm considering having them done in PP or SR really soon after my arrival? I have heard of people that have done this?

I'm not the best with people, but I'm not a bad guy. Are foreigners that are a little socially awkward, yet friendly often a target for trouble? I keep to myself, but I'm social. I try not to step on anyone's toes or make a scene. I still want to ask because I have read horror stories of expats who were more than careful end up in completely insane situations...

Hep A is transmitted through saliva, blood and sexual contact. It is endemic in Asia. You need vaccinating and where you stay will not prevent you from catching it. It is endemic in Japan too... so the earlier you get vaccinated the better.

BKK1 is often touted as the expat area of Phnom Penh. Which is actually far from the truth. It is an NGO bolt hole and prices there reflect their salary premiums - you will need to look elsewhere as an English teacher. Which is fine expats live all over PP. SR is too small to have any defined "expat areas".

I am a big bolshy bugger and have found that I can keep myself out of trouble everywhere by being friendly and still drawing a line in the sand when necessary. You seem to be terrified of your own shadow. Cambodia is no better/worse than anywhere else in the world from a social perspective. Use your common sense and you'll be fine.

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The advice I gave applies everywhere in the city and indeed in the country. No specific areas to avoid in terms of crime other than the obvious need to avoid walking alone on deserted or almost deserted streets after dark. Cambodians go to bed early (and rise early) so side streets get quiet by 7-8 pm (tourist areas excepted). And streets are often not well lit. Once dark stick to main roads and streets with a fair number of people. The locals are friendly and very concerned themselves about theft and will gladly advise you if you ask. Should definitely back the effort to learn at least basic Khmer.

One thing that you might not expect is that the streets immediately around Wats (Buddhist temples) and even the Wat grounds are not a safe area after dark. In fact the opposite. The back of Wat Lanka is especially notorious but there are others.

I would advise against the local nightclubs or at least use a lot of caution if you go. Ditto the streets immediately around them after dark. Lots of bad characters both local and foreign. Plenty of small bars and bar/restaurants if you want to hang out and drink.

The other safety issue I forgot is HIV. While rates have declined there is still a fair amount of it among prostitutes and bar girls etc. Condoms are essential.

There are several areas where foreigners mostly stay. The riverfront is where tourists and backpackers congregate...along with touts. Avoid it. Bang Keng Kang is the more upscale resident expat area, nice and lots of good places to eat but rents are high. Toul Tum Pong (Russian market area) is where many expats seeking lower rents settle these days and enough have done so that it is starting to have some good restaurants as well, while still being primarily inhabited by locals. Best New York pizza in the whole of Asia IMO is at Brooklyn Pizza there).

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Oh how could I forget - health care!

It is abysmal (and expensive). For anything serious or at all specialized you need to go to Thailand or Viet Nam. Best to have an expat insurance policy that covers those countries as well. Thailand especially has become expensive, VN is less so but also less user-friendly for foreigners. For simple problems, most medications can be bought over the counter but stick to reliable air conditioned places as there are counterfeit drugs on the market.

And yes, I have had dengue...three times. Dengue is highly unpleasant but not the greatest threat to your health by a long shot. That would be traffic car/motorcycle accidents. Do not underestimate the need for good insurance cover including one that would cover emergency medivac to neighboring country. Doesn't matter how healthy you are. They drive like maniacs and even as a pedestrian, you are not safe from being run over...plus you will inevitably need to take the aptly names moto-dops (pronounced dopes) to get around. People always worry about exotic tropical diseases, it is car/moto accidents that are the real danger.

Cambodians are very friendly people and not in the least xenophobic (except as regards the Vietnamese, a whole other story). If you take the time and trouble to learn their language, have a sincere interest in their culture and them as a people, you will certainly make local friends. The women are more conservative than in Thailand and will not be all over you (any that are, you can be sure they are hookers) but they are not closed to relationships with foreigners like in Japan, it all depends on you as a person and also on how committed you are to settling down in Cambodia -- only hookers are likely to be interested in someone perceived as just passing through. You will have the most luck with women reasonably close to your own age, whatever that is. Be aware that casual dating is not really accepted in Cambodia and while the younger generation do have premarital sex, they do so discretely and in the context of serious relationships that often end in marriage. If you do get a Cambodian gf, she is likely to take it very seriously and expect you to do the same...as will her family. An older woman who has already been married (divorced, widowed etc) will be a little less strict but even they will usually be looking for something lasting. Very different from the situation in Thailand. Much less mercenary, but expecting much more emotionally and in commitment.

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Oh how could I forget - health care!

It is abysmal (and expensive). For anything serious or at all specialized you need to go to Thailand or Viet Nam. Best to have an expat insurance policy that covers those countries as well. Thailand especially has become expensive, VN is less so but also less user-friendly for foreigners. For simple problems, most medications can be bought over the counter but stick to reliable air conditioned places as there are counterfeit drugs on the market.

And yes, I have had dengue...three times. Dengue is highly unpleasant but not the greatest threat to your health by a long shot. That would be traffic car/motorcycle accidents. Do not underestimate the need for good insurance cover including one that would cover emergency medivac to neighboring country. Doesn't matter how healthy you are. They drive like maniacs and even as a pedestrian, you are not safe from being run over...plus you will inevitably need to take the aptly names moto-dops (pronounced dopes) to get around. People always worry about exotic tropical diseases, it is car/moto accidents that are the real danger.

Cambodians are very friendly people and not in the least xenophobic (except as regards the Vietnamese, a whole other story). If you take the time and trouble to learn their language, have a sincere interest in their culture and them as a people, you will certainly make local friends. The women are more conservative than in Thailand and will not be all over you (any that are, you can be sure they are hookers) but they are not closed to relationships with foreigners like in Japan, it all depends on you as a person and also on how committed you are to settling down in Cambodia -- only hookers are likely to be interested in someone perceived as just passing through. You will have the most luck with women reasonably close to your own age, whatever that is. Be aware that casual dating is not really accepted in Cambodia and while the younger generation do have premarital sex, they do so discretely and in the context of serious relationships that often end in marriage. If you do get a Cambodian gf, she is likely to take it very seriously and expect you to do the same...as will her family. An older woman who has already been married (divorced, widowed etc) will be a little less strict but even they will usually be looking for something lasting. Very different from the situation in Thailand. Much less mercenary, but expecting much more emotionally and in commitment.

I know that dengue fever is a lot more dangerous than infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea, but I was just wondering if the symptoms of dengue are similar in discomfort to an std or much much worse? I'm sorry, I don't mean to imply that you have even had an std in your life, but if you have, how would you compare the symptoms of an std to dengue fever?

I have had chlamydia 3 times in my life and gonorrhea once (infected at the same time as chlamydia once in Thailand) and the symptoms are bearable without medication for a couple days, then I start to feel super nauseous and my stomach is in knots my day 2 or 3 without medication. Then again, I usually go to a hospital or clinic as soon as I can.

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Oh how could I forget - health care!

It is abysmal (and expensive). For anything serious or at all specialized you need to go to Thailand or Viet Nam. Best to have an expat insurance policy that covers those countries as well. Thailand especially has become expensive, VN is less so but also less user-friendly for foreigners. For simple problems, most medications can be bought over the counter but stick to reliable air conditioned places as there are counterfeit drugs on the market.

And yes, I have had dengue...three times. Dengue is highly unpleasant but not the greatest threat to your health by a long shot. That would be traffic car/motorcycle accidents. Do not underestimate the need for good insurance cover including one that would cover emergency medivac to neighboring country. Doesn't matter how healthy you are. They drive like maniacs and even as a pedestrian, you are not safe from being run over...plus you will inevitably need to take the aptly names moto-dops (pronounced dopes) to get around. People always worry about exotic tropical diseases, it is car/moto accidents that are the real danger.

Cambodians are very friendly people and not in the least xenophobic (except as regards the Vietnamese, a whole other story). If you take the time and trouble to learn their language, have a sincere interest in their culture and them as a people, you will certainly make local friends. The women are more conservative than in Thailand and will not be all over you (any that are, you can be sure they are hookers) but they are not closed to relationships with foreigners like in Japan, it all depends on you as a person and also on how committed you are to settling down in Cambodia -- only hookers are likely to be interested in someone perceived as just passing through. You will have the most luck with women reasonably close to your own age, whatever that is. Be aware that casual dating is not really accepted in Cambodia and while the younger generation do have premarital sex, they do so discretely and in the context of serious relationships that often end in marriage. If you do get a Cambodian gf, she is likely to take it very seriously and expect you to do the same...as will her family. An older woman who has already been married (divorced, widowed etc) will be a little less strict but even they will usually be looking for something lasting. Very different from the situation in Thailand. Much less mercenary, but expecting much more emotionally and in commitment.

I know that dengue fever is a lot more dangerous than infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea, but I was just wondering if the symptoms of dengue are similar in discomfort to an std or much much worse? I'm sorry, I don't mean to imply that you have even had an std in your life, but if you have, how would you compare the symptoms of an std to dengue fever?

I have had chlamydia 3 times in my life and gonorrhea once (infected at the same time as chlamydia once in Thailand) and the symptoms are bearable without medication for a couple days, then I start to feel super nauseous and my stomach is in knots my day 2 or 3 without medication. Then again, I usually go to a hospital or clinic as soon as I can.

You do know that dengue is not an STD, right? It's a mosquito borne infection. It is, most times, just as bad as the worst case of flu. However, it is a hemorrhagic fever and can turn really, really nasty. The likelihood of this increases with each time you catch dengue (there are four strains of dengue).

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Oh how could I forget - health care!

It is abysmal (and expensive). For anything serious or at all specialized you need to go to Thailand or Viet Nam. Best to have an expat insurance policy that covers those countries as well. Thailand especially has become expensive, VN is less so but also less user-friendly for foreigners. For simple problems, most medications can be bought over the counter but stick to reliable air conditioned places as there are counterfeit drugs on the market.

And yes, I have had dengue...three times. Dengue is highly unpleasant but not the greatest threat to your health by a long shot. That would be traffic car/motorcycle accidents. Do not underestimate the need for good insurance cover including one that would cover emergency medivac to neighboring country. Doesn't matter how healthy you are. They drive like maniacs and even as a pedestrian, you are not safe from being run over...plus you will inevitably need to take the aptly names moto-dops (pronounced dopes) to get around. People always worry about exotic tropical diseases, it is car/moto accidents that are the real danger.

Cambodians are very friendly people and not in the least xenophobic (except as regards the Vietnamese, a whole other story). If you take the time and trouble to learn their language, have a sincere interest in their culture and them as a people, you will certainly make local friends. The women are more conservative than in Thailand and will not be all over you (any that are, you can be sure they are hookers) but they are not closed to relationships with foreigners like in Japan, it all depends on you as a person and also on how committed you are to settling down in Cambodia -- only hookers are likely to be interested in someone perceived as just passing through. You will have the most luck with women reasonably close to your own age, whatever that is. Be aware that casual dating is not really accepted in Cambodia and while the younger generation do have premarital sex, they do so discretely and in the context of serious relationships that often end in marriage. If you do get a Cambodian gf, she is likely to take it very seriously and expect you to do the same...as will her family. An older woman who has already been married (divorced, widowed etc) will be a little less strict but even they will usually be looking for something lasting. Very different from the situation in Thailand. Much less mercenary, but expecting much more emotionally and in commitment.

I know that dengue fever is a lot more dangerous than infections like chlamydia and gonorrhea, but I was just wondering if the symptoms of dengue are similar in discomfort to an std or much much worse? I'm sorry, I don't mean to imply that you have even had an std in your life, but if you have, how would you compare the symptoms of an std to dengue fever?

I have had chlamydia 3 times in my life and gonorrhea once (infected at the same time as chlamydia once in Thailand) and the symptoms are bearable without medication for a couple days, then I start to feel super nauseous and my stomach is in knots my day 2 or 3 without medication. Then again, I usually go to a hospital or clinic as soon as I can.

You do know that dengue is not an STD, right? It's a mosquito borne infection. It is, most times, just as bad as the worst case of flu. However, it is a hemorrhagic fever and can turn really, really nasty. The likelihood of this increases with each time you catch dengue (there are four strains of dengue).

Yes, I know that dengue isn't an std. I'm sorry for not mentioning that. I was just wondering if the early symptoms (first couple of hours or days) of dengue is similar in discomfort to chlamydia, gonorrhea or even Hep A or B?

I will have to do some research into each of these 4 strains.

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There is a wide spectrum of severity with dengue, it can be so mild that you hardly know you have it and so severe that it is anguish and you have to be hospitalized. And everywhere in between.

Why this obsession with dengue?

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