Authorities Discover Avian Influenza Victim in Cambodia

A 19-year-old Kandal province man is confirmed to be suffering from bird flu; the country’s eighth case of avian influenza since 2005 and the first case since April 2007, the Ministry of Health and World Health Organi­zation said Friday.

The man, a native of Kandal Stung district’s Choeung Koeub commune where he first became ill, is being treated at Calmette Hospital, said Dr Sok Touch, director of the Health Ministry’s communicable disease control department.

“This is the eighth human infected with avian influenza [in Cam­bodia],” Sok Touch said. “In the first seven cases since the outbreak of bird flu, they all died,” he said, adding that the latest sufferer ap­pears to be getting better.

Officials are searching for possibly more infected people, and have not yet found the source of the latest outbreak, Sok Touch said.

So far 27 people from the area around the infected man’s village have been tested, but results are not yet available, he said.

Nima Asgara, a public health specialist with the WHO’s communicable disease, surveillance and response unit, said that there is still need to educate the public and create awareness of bird flu.

“The threat of avian influenza has not diminished compared to previous years and we are still getting cases globally,” he said.

People who have handled sick birds and experience flu-like symptoms must seek medical help and testing, he added.

So far, there have been no cases of human to human transmissions of the disease but more human cases create a greater possibility for such a strain to emerge, Asgara said.

Sok Touch said the man first developed symptoms of fever, cough, muscle aches and sore throat on Nov 28.

            (Additional reporting by Tim Sturrock)



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