More Than 1,200 Birds Culled in Takeo

The culling of poultry continued yesterday in Takeo province’s Koh Andet district as agriculture and health officials worked to check a recent outbreak of the H5N1 avian influenza virus.

Workers with the Ministry of Agriculture have since Wednesday morning gathered and incinerated 1,266 ducks and chickens, Thai Ly, chief officer of domesticated animals for the provincial agriculture department, said yesterday.

He said birds are being culled in Romenh commune while villagers from nearby Prey Khla and Thlea Prachum communes are being told to take precautions with their flocks and health.

“They should avoid eating rare-cooked duck or chicken meat. It is not a problem as long as they do not touch sick ducks or chickens or use dead birds to cook,” he said.

Officials began culling the poultry after samples from six ducks from Romenh tested positive for the H5N1 virus. Phnom Penh’s Pasteur Institute confirmed the results on Monday.

Mr Ly said the recent outbreak could affect the upcoming celebrations of the Chinese New Year, which falls on Feb 14. The holiday, observed by many Cambodians, traditionally involves dishes of duck and chicken.

“This case could affect the Chinese New Year because we prohibit them from buying or selling ducks and chickens,” he said of the import and export embargo within a five-kilometer radius of the outbreak in Romenh.

Dr Lotfi Allal, chief technical advisor at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, said it was important that people who discover sick or dead poultry to quickly report this to local animal health authorities.

“If we want to stop this, we all have to work very closely together,” he said by telephone from Takeo province.

Dr Allal said officials would likely continue culling birds in the early mornings and at the end of the day when it was easier for the animals to be caught at the homes of their owners. He said workers are sending more samples from Takeo for testing.

Dr Nima Asgari, a public health specialist at the World Health Organization, said yesterday the organization has not received reports of human cases at this time.


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