Gov’t: Ducks Not Spreading Flu to Humans

Despite growing fears in Viet­nam that free-range ducks are help­ing spread bird flu, Cam­bo­dia’s animal health spokesman said Sunday that Cambodians should not be concerned about catching the disease from ducks.

“We should not worry,” Min­is­try of Agriculture Secretary of State Yim Voeunthan said. “It won’t transmit to humans.”

Yim Voeunthan said in Cam­bo­dia’s hot and dry climate, the deadly H5N1 disease, which has killed three Cambodians this year, cannot easily be transmitted to hu­mans from ducks. “It can only live in water, not in dry air,” he said.

According to Vietnamese state news, tests on 10,000 Mekong Del­­ta ducks, which can transmit the virus without suffering symptoms, showed that 71 percent had H5N1, while 21 percent of chickens tested were infected.

“In a situation where bird flu outbreaks are still in danger of spreading, it’s very dangerous to allow ducks to roam freely in the Me­kong Delta,” Bui Quang Anh, Viet­nam’s Ministry of Agriculture animal health department chief, told the Tui Tre newspaper, according to the Associated Press.

Yim Voeunthan said that agri­cul­ture officials still do not know how In Sok Tach, an 8-year-old girl from Kampot province who died of bird flu on April 7, contracted the disease.

While the disease killed a large number of ducks and chickens in the area where she lived in De­cem­­ber, recent tests on ducks and chickens from her village have come back negative.

Dr Megge Miller, the World Health Organization’s avian flu coordinator, said the Ministry of Health is still waiting for further test results.

In recent weeks, a number of do­nors have pledged aid to Cam­bo­dia to help it detect bird flu and educate the public about its dangers, Miller said.

AusAID has given $150,000, the US Agency for International De­velopment $100,000, the Asian De­velopment Bank $60,000 and Ca­nada has pledged $40,000, she said. The Ministry of Health has spent $2,700 on the issue this year.



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