Campaign on Bird-Flu Taken To Provinces

An information campaign about avian influenza will continue in Kompong Cham province today and in five other provinces on Thursday, following bird-flu awareness events in Kompong Thom, Kompong Speu and Battambang provinces on Monday, officials said.

Agriculture officials are handing out posters and T-shirts informing people about bird flu and holding question and answer sessions with villagers, officials said.

Launched Saturday, the campaign also includes educational spots broadcast on television and radio, explaining how to handle poultry while avoiding bird-flu contamination, said Kao Phal, director of the Agriculture Ministry’s animal health and production department.

Health authorities are stepping up efforts to curb the disease this week due to the approach of Kh­mer New Year. Most of Cambo­dia’s bird-flu cases in humans have so far oc­curred in March and April, leading experts to believe this could be linked to the increase in the bird trade around Khmer New Year and to wild bird migration patterns.

One television message recommends that people quarantine new poultry for 14 days before allowing them contact with other birds, Kao Phal said.

Since late 2005, the Agriculture Min­­istry and the UN Food and Ag­ricul­ture Organization have trained 4,700 villagers in bird-flu management and prevention, officials said.

Those trained have been “mostly farmers who volunteered in their community to look for unusual sickness in the animal population,” said Cecilia Dy, an FAO information and communications officer.

Villagers should not eat a bird suspected to have died from bird-flu, said Heng Virith, an FAO trainer in Kom­pong Thom. “[They should] bury or burn the dead bird right away and protect their hands with gloves or plastic bags when they do so.”

A total of 18,269 chickens, ducks and other species have died of bird-flu since the first case in January 2004, according to the FAO.

Health authorities have said that last week’s death of a 13-year-old girl from Kompong Cham pro­vince who tested positive for bird flu was an isolated case.

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