5 New Bird Flu Cases Found in 3 Provinces

Five more cases of bird flu have been confirmed in three provinces, government officials said Wednesday.

The last cases in Cambodia of avian influenza, which has killed millions of birds throughout Asia, were confirmed Friday and March 5, said Suon Sothoeun, deputy director of the Ministry of Agriculture’s department of animal health and production.

But in telephone interviews in recent weeks, ministry officials have denied any new cases over the past few weeks as experts questioned the ministry’s reporting of avian influenza.

Since early January, 8,106 animals died of bird flu and 6,125 were culled in 10 confirmed outbreaks in Cambodia, Suon So­thoeun said. The new cases were first suspected in February and killed 10,532 chickens and ducks at small farms in Takeo, Kan­dal and Siem Reap provinces, he said.

Tests have not yet determined if bird flu had infected 500 kg of poultry seized last week after a trader transported the haul from Kompong Speu province without proper documentation, Suon Sothoeun said. “We see the situation is under control,” he said. “There are no more reports of new suspected cases.”

But when questioned whether cases, other than the poultry confiscated last week, were being tested, Suon Sothoeun was unclear.

“I do not have a record,” he said. “Who knows? We don’t know. We are waiting until the results come. When the results come, we will report it, officially.”

He said he receives daily re­ports from investigating task for­ces that monitor farms.

World Health Organization medical epidemiologist Sean Tobin expressed concern this month about the extent of the ministry’s surveillance and consistency of reports of potentially sick humans to the Ministry of Health.

On Wednesday, he said no new suspected human cases were reported. Tests of at least seven people suspected of bird flu have all come back negative.


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