Officials: 12-Year-Old Boy Died From Bird Flu

A 12-year-old boy from Prey Veng province died of avian influenza in Phnom Penh on Tuesday night, officials said Wednesday. The boy is the second Cambodian dis­covered to have died of bird flu this year, and is the country’s sixth hu­­man fatality from the disease since 2005.

“He died in Calmette Hospital,” said Dr Megge Miller of the World Health Organization. “It looks like he was brought to Phnom Penh while still sick and exposed in Prey Veng.”

Ministry of Health officials have been dispatched to Prey Veng’s Me­sang district to conduct medical tests on close relatives of the victim and other people he would have had contact with, she said.

The Ministry of Health official in charge of coordinating anti-bird flu efforts, Dr Ly Sovann, said preliminary reports indicate that the boy had touched a dead chicken, but the investigation into the cause of infection was just starting. “The [investigation] group just left for Prey Veng this morning,” he said.

A three-year-old girl named Pun Puthy from Kompong Speu prov­ince’s Kong Pisey district died of bird flu in Phnom Penh’s Kantha Bopha Hospital on March 21. This week, health officials distributed new posters warning villagers in the province against handling sick chickens.

Miller said that public health ad­vertisements that had not been broadcast since June 2005 are now being aired regularly. They had been off the air be­cause television and radio stations were charging more than the Health Ministry could afford.

“The main ones are already back on the air, but some TV stations and radio stations are choosing to air them more frequently than others,” she said.

Ly Sovann said that there are no further reports of bird flu outbreaks in Kompong Speu.

All four deaths from bird flu in 2005 originated in Kampot prov­ince and were confined to the first four months of that year.

Experts have speculated that these months feature more bird flu in­fections because of patterns of wild bird migration. Wild birds are known to be able to carry the H5N1 virus for long distances without dying from it.



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