An 8-year-old girl from Kompong Thom province’s Baray district has become the 21st person this year to contract the H5N1 virus, also known as bird flu, officials said Tuesday.
“The Institut Pasteur diagnosed and confirmed that she has bird flu,” on Thursday, Sonny Krishnan, communications officer with the World Health Organization (WHO), said, adding that the girl was in a stable condition and receiving treatment at Jayavarman VII hospital in Siem Reap.
Mr. Krishnan said that the girl had contracted the virus, which is carried and spread through poultry, in Pongro commune’s O’Raing village.
“The girl had direct contact with dead poultry; poultry was dying in her village and people had prepared meals from the dead chicken,” he said.
The girl is the 42nd case of bird flu since the virus was first confirmed in Cambodia in 2005. With 21 cases this year and 10 survivors, Cambodia has seen its highest number of cases in a year, but also the highest number of survivors, according to the WHO.
“Before she was diagnosed, there was a suspicion that she might have bird flu, so they [hospital staff] gave her Tamiflu,” the only recommended anti-viral treatment for avian influenza in humans, Mr. Krishnan said.
“Now we are seeing more and more cases of survivors because once there is a presumption of avian influenza, hospital staff is not reluctant to administer Tamiflu” immediately, he said.
Minister of Health Mam Bunheng on Tuesday urged people to stay away from dead and sick poultry and said that parents and guardians had to be particularly careful with their children, who seem to be more susceptible to the H5N1 virus.
“Children often care for domestic poultry by feeding them, cleaning pens and gathering eggs…. I urge parents and guardians to keep children away from sick or dead poultry and prevent them from playing with chickens and ducks,” Mr. Bunheng said in a statement.
“Parents and guardians must also make sure children thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water before eating and after any contact with poultry.”