Bird Flu Discounted in Deaths of 500 Chickens

With fears mounting of the possible spread to Cambodia of the deadly bird flu outbreak in neighboring Vietnam, officials in Kan­dal province said Tuesday they believe the recent deaths of more than 500 chickens in four communes in Lvea Em district were the result of the less harmful Newcastle disease.

Ministry of Health officials have yet to investigate the chicken deaths, but Lvea Em district Deputy Governor Prum Soeun said they were likely the result of Newcastle disease, coupled with unseasonally high temperatures.

“The chickens that died be­cause of Newcastle disease, the villagers took them to eat. But the deaths of some chickens gave the villagers a fright and they have now banned [eating them],” he said. “The people heard about the bird flu in Vietnam last week, and they are afraid that the bird [disease] will transit from Vietnam to Cambodia. Although bird flu is not in Cambodia yet, the people are very concerned about their health.”

Newcastle disease is deadly to chickens but cannot be transferred to humans, Prum Soeun said. Chicken breeders in Pen Okhna Ung and Koh Keo commune were particularly hard hit by the deaths and the chicken meat boycott, Prum Soeun said.

Doeng Khoeun, Lvea Em district’s police chief, said fears of catching bird flu have frightened market-goers.

Most of the chickens farmed in the area are raised free-range and are less likely to catch diseases that factory-farmed fowls fall prey to, Doeng Khoeun said.

“Usually the chickens die be­cause of Newcastle disease because of the hot temperature this month. But because of bird flu in neighboring Vietnam, the people are worried about their health and do not dare to eat chicken,” he said.

District officials said the Ministry of Health should broadcast information about bird flu on radio and television to dispel confusion about the disease.

Cambodia has banned the import of birds and bird products from Vietnam, where five deaths are being linked to the flu virus known as H5N1. All the victims were from northern Vietnam in the region of Hanoi.

 

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