More than 2,000 ducks have died from the H5N1 bird flu in Siem Reap and Battambang provinces since Thursday in the first outbreak of the virus since March 2014, according to officials and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) on Tuesday.
The OIE figures, provided to the organization by Sen Sovann, a deputy secretary-general at the Ministry of Agriculture, state that 2,280 birds have perished from the disease since Thursday, including 2,100 in Battambang and 180 in Siem Reap. According to its figures, all the ducks died of the illness and were not culled.
A spokesman for the ministry confirmed the outbreak, but provided a different number and said that some of the ducks—as well as some chickens—had been culled after they were found to have the virus.
“There have been two provinces affected by bird flu—Battambang and Siem Reap provinces—and about 2,500 chickens and ducks have died from sickness or been destroyed,” said Lor Reaksmey, adding that no humans had contracted the virus yet.
“It has not spread to any people because the farms were far from the villagers’ houses. Before we destroyed them, we heard that some [birds] had died so we took animal feces and blood to test and we found they had bird flu, so we decided to quickly take action,” he said.
In February 2014, two children died from the H5N1 virus in an outbreak that ended in March. In 2013, a total of 26 people, mostly children, contracted bird flu from dead or sick poultry and 12 died.
Chhim Vichara, director of Battambang’s provincial agriculture department, said that his authorities had already begun efforts to ensure the virus does not spread to people.
“In the past five days a total of 2,000 chickens and ducks died and some were destroyed, and then we sprayed the TH4 [disinfectant] to kill the virus,” he said. “We also educated people by sharing posters showing them how to prevent or avoid the bird flu, and we will still keep observing people to see if anything strange happens.”
Mr. Vichara said people should not go near sick poultry and should inform agriculture authorities if their birds fall sick.
Mr. Sovann and the Ministry of Health could not be reached for comment.