Health officials have ruled out human-to-human transmission as the cause of Cambodia’s fourth avian influenza death and are focusing on chickens that died near the victim’s school as a possible source of the virus.
“We have discovered that chicken deaths did occur in area surrounding her school,” Dr Megge Miller, World Health Organization bird flu coordinator, said Sunday.
On Friday, Vietnam’s Pasteur Institute confirmed Sim Chan Bopha, a 20-year-old Kampot province woman, died of H5N1 virus after being taken across the border to a Kien Giang hospital.
However, Kampot officials on Sunday said they were waiting for retests before declaring the woman a bird flu fatality.
“The girl did not have any cough. She had only abdomen pain,” said Lim Kaing Eang, provincial health director. Miller said the fact that all Cambodians known to have contracted bird flu have died does not indicate that the strain here is especially potent.
“[The 100 percent fatality rate] is more a function of the surveillance system we have,” she said. “It is more able to detect deaths right now than it is able to detect the less severe forms.”
Miller said that Cambodia has only a few hundred doses of Tamiflu, the only recommended treatment for bird flu. “We have enough…for the sporadic cases that are cropping up,” she said.
“What people are thinking about is the possible pandemic situation, in which you do need to stockpile a large quantity of the medicine…we are looking at that for the future,” Miller said.