Villagers living on the outskirts of the capital said late last week that they have experienced mass chicken deaths two years in a row. But until recently, no inspectors had come to the area to test for avian influenza, despite villagers’ reports to commune officials.
Instead, an NGO employee working in the community of Anlong Kong alerted agriculture officials about the deaths of 400 chickens in the village and tests were performed Friday.
The Agriculture Ministry was still waiting Sunday for results from tests performed on chickens taken from Anlong Kong village in Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar commune to determine whether the chickens had bird flu, Deputy Director of Animal Health and Production Suon Sotheoun said.
On Thursday, villagers said that even though they were informed about bird flu, they still ate the birds after they died mysteriously.
“Some people ate dead chickens because [they are] poor,” Deputy village Chief Sum Phearum said. He said the chickens died suddenly in January, including 14 of his own flock.
Sum Phearum said he reported the mysterious deaths to commune officials, but no one came to inspect the birds.
According to the World Health Organization, bird flu is not transmissible by eating properly cooked chicken, but it recommends against preparing sick chickens for consumption.
Sa Ran, 35, said Thursday that 20 of his chickens and 10 ducks died, but he ate some of them and sold others. During last year’s bird flu outbreak, he said 40 of his chickens had died suddenly.
“I buried small ones, but the bigger ones I ate and sold them,” he said.”
Nuon Mom, a 36-year-old villager, said she was only made aware of bird flu by radio broadcasts this month.
Most Anlong Kong villagers were relocated to the remote site by the government in February 2002 after a fire destroyed their homes along the central Tonle Bassac area of the city in November 2001. Many bought chickens on micro-credit loans, according to the NGO worker who asked not to be named.
(Additional reporting by Erik Wasson)