The Ministry of Agriculture has been investigating the deaths of about 3,000 ducks in Kompong Speu province to find out whether they had the deadly H5N1 strain of avian influenza.
“We have tested the first sample provincial officials sent us last week and it was negative for bird flu,” Sorn San, chief of the ministry’s National Animal Health and Production Investigation Center, said on Sunday. “Our team has since gone up there and taken 10 more samples to test for bird flu and other diseases.”
The researchers have been testing samples from the dead waterfowl, which were burned in pits, he said. Tests should be completed today.
The ducks were on five poultry farms of Kompong Speu’s Samraong Tong district.
Imported from Vietnam through Takeo province by Vietnamese farmers, who apparently were trying to evade Vietnam’s home-raised fowl irradiation campaign against bird flu, the ducks were being raised for meat in Prey Kuy village, Trapaing Kong commune, said Phat Kim Hong, police chief for Samraong Tong district.
Investigators from the Ministry of Health’s Communicable Disease Department have set up a surveillance system to check for bird flu in people, and “until now we haven’t found any suspected human case,” said Ly Sovann, head of the ministry’s surveillance bureau.
The H5N1 strain of bird flu is less deadly in ducks than in chickens, but mutations could allow the waterfowl to infect other birds or humans, according to health experts.