Bird Flu Kills Six-Year-Old; Eighth Fatal Case This Year

Bird flu killed a 6-year-old girl in Kompong Cham province on Aug 14, the Health Ministry and World Health Organization announced Friday, marking the eighth fatal case this year and the 16th confirmed fatality since 2005.

Len Sreykhuoch, 6, from Ba­­theay district’s Mepring commune, was ad­­mitted to the Kantha Bo­­pha Chil­­dren’s Hospital in Phnom Penh on Aug 12 after de­veloping symptoms on Aug 7, according to information on the WHO website. There had been reports of poultry die-offs in her village, according to the WHO.

Ly Sovann, deputy director of com­­municable disease control at the Ministry, said 20 samples from people close to the girl came back negative. “We will continue sur­­veillance for two weeks and…conduct education in villages,” he said.

The deadly H5N1 virus poses a pandemic threat, but as yet it cannot be easily transmitted between humans, according to the WHO. The organization warns against eating sick or dead poultry and recommends hand washing before meals and seeking medical help quickly.

Philippe Buchy, head of the virology unit at the Pasteur Institute, said that he did not know whether the increase in laboratory-confirmed deaths from H5N1 was due to better surveillance or a greater presence of the virus among poultry.

Mr Buchy said that Kompong Cham province had a high density of ducks, and unlike chickens, ducks do not die from the virus and they spread it through excretion.

“Ducks act as a silent reservoir of the virus,” he said.


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