Dead Ducks Mysteriously Dumped in Capital

Health and Agriculture Ministry officials on Friday tested sick ducks and chickens in Phnom Penh’s Rus­sei Keo district for avian influenza, after the worried owners of the sick fowl reported that more than 100 dead ducks had been dumped near their homes.

Chemicals to control bird flu were sprayed at the site where the dead birds were mysteriously de­posited on Monday and on chicken coops where dozens of fowl have subsequently fallen sick. Residents of Tuol Kok village, Tuol Sangke commune, said they saw two trucks on their way from the city center dumping something near their homes on Mon­day morning.

Pheng Sokham, municipal director of animal health and products, led the team of officials investigating the site. “The duck owner should have inf­ormed the authorities about sickness and the death of his ducks,” he said Friday.

“We have warned villagers not to come close to the site,” he added.

Loem Sinuon, 25, said he first learned of the dead ducks from the smell of their decomposing carcasses, dumped 200 meters from his home, on Wednesday.

He estimated that up to sixty of his own ducks and chickens fell sick or died between Tuesday and Thursday. “My mother tried to keep them for food. But I said no,” Loem Si­nuon recalled, as he caught a sick chicken for health officials to draw blood from. “Most of my ducks and chickens were buried underground.”

Police are now seeking the duck owner to interview him about the deaths, said commune police chief Khat Da­rasy.

Six Cambodians have died from avian influenza, but no poultry sick with the disease have ever been discovered in the capital.

Dr Michael O’Leary, World Health Organization country representative, cautioned against speculation about how the ducks died.

“There are many causes of death for ducks and chickens” he said, adding that his concern about the in­cident was primarily about sanitation. “Dead animals should be properly disposed of,” he said.

Even when bird flu does occur, the risk of spread to humans is small, O’Leary said. He added that while viruses can survive for a period of time after an animal’s death, they do not pose a direct risk to people, as long as the dead animals are not handled.

Pheng Sokham said the results of the tests will be available in a few days.

(Additional reporting by Elizabeth Tomei)


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