An 11-year-old boy from Kompong Chhnang province’s Rolea Ba’ier district has died from bird flu while an 8-year-old boy from Kandal province’s Leuk Dek district also contracted the virus but is recovering, the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization said in a statement Tuesday.
“These are the seventh and eight cases this year,” the Ministry and the WHO said Tuesday.
Both boys, said Denis Laurent, deputy director of the Kantha Bopha Hospitals, had been admitted to their Phnom Penh branch last week.
“Unfortunately, one of them died on Thursday afternoon, but the good news is that the other boy is doing very well and we are optimistic that he will survive,” Dr. Laurent said.
In both cases, backyard poultry had been dying around the boys’ villages for several weeks.
H5N1 is quickly transmitted from poultry to poultry, who generally survive for only a few days, and transmission to humans is rare but often deadly.
“The boy [who died] helped to prepare dead chickens and ducks for food and ate them,” the ministry and the WHO said.
Although campaigns on radio have increased awareness about the dangers of H5N1 among the rural population, outbreaks in poultry continue to go unreported as farmers often say they are too poor to risk losing their animals to mass culling, which is the normal procedure if H5N1 is detected.
In 2013, a total of 26 cases of avian influenza in humans were reported in Cambodia, 12 of which were fatal, making last year the worst ever since the virus was first found to be circulating in the country’s poultry in 2004.