Nearly 1,000 chickens and ducks were culled in Kompong Cham province’s Ponhea Krek district on April 11 following the death of a girl who tested positive for bird flu in Krek commune’s La’ak village, officials said.
An investigation by the Agriculture Ministry after the girl’s death on April 5 turned up traces of avian influenza in no less than five birds in the poultry population of the village and its surroundings, according to a Thursday statement.
“After receiving unanimous approval from poultry owners, culling of all poultry within 1-kilometer radius of the affected village began in the afternoon [Wednesday] and lasted until evening,” according to the statement prepared by the UN in cooperation with the government.
Heng Bun Yi, agriculture and fishery director for Kompong Cham province, said Sunday that more than 900 chickens and 22 ducks were culled in five villages neighboring La’ak village, and that the area was sprayed with disinfectant afterwards.
Villagers agreed to have all their poultry killed without compensation because “they were scared…after they saw the girl die,” he said.
According to the statement, the poultry mortality rate in and around La’ak village appeared to have been more than 50 percent.
Michael O’Leary, the World Health Organization’s country representative, said Sunday that anytime the influenza’s H5N1 virus is detected, even in a small number of birds, it is cause for concern since this means the virus is present.
“Technically, an outbreak is anything above the normal—and the normal is zero,” he said.
Despite the outbreak among poultry, no more humans seem to have been affected, said Ly Sovann, deputy director of the Health Ministry’s department of communicable disease control.
The 13 people in the district suspected of having been infected with bird flu tested negative for the virus, he said. Nevertheless, Ly Sovann said, “We will keep researching for at least two weeks.”