A Kampot province man who died in Phnom Penh’s Calmette Hospital on Tuesday tested positive for an H5 virus Wednesday, making it likely he is Cambodia’s second known fatality from avian influenza, scientifically known as H5N1.
“Preliminary tests showed that the Kampot man had a H5 virus,” Minister of Health Nuth Sokhom said Wednesday. “It is not necessarily H5N1 exactly, but it is the same group as bird flu.”
Villagers in Kampot province’s Banteay Meas district identified the dead man as Keo Saran, 27, of Tram Sasor village, Samrong Leu commune, which lies about 20 km away from the village in Kompong Trach district where the country’s first bird flu victim, Tit Sakhan, lived.
“You can safely call this a suspected case of bird flu, which is to say that it will be subject to further laboratory tests,” World Health Organization Representative Jim Tulloch said. He said laboratory tests will be undertaken at a WHO center outside the country.
Nuth Sokhom said test results for eight people who had contact with the man have come back negative.
“We will take action to handle it,” he said. “I will go down to Kampot…have a meeting to listen to what is going on and have a meeting with local vets and explain to them to work on prevention.”
Contacted Wednesday, Chum Yav, 47, aunt of the dead man said: “I lost about 50 chickens in the last 10 days. I cooked about 30 of them.”
“On Thursday Keo Saran visited me…. The next day he got a fever and I brought him some drugs and he felt better,” she said. “On Sunday at 7 am he was coughing. On Sunday night and Monday he coughed continuously and his stomach was swollen.”
Chum Yav said Keo Saran was taken to an area clinic on Monday. When a doctor said he could not treat him, Keo Saran’s family brought him to Calmette Hospital where he died on Tuesday.
Chum Yav said that several hundred chickens in Keatha Vong Leu village, in Kompong Sala Khanglech commune, have died of sudden illness.
Nou Muth, undersecretary of state for the Agriculture Ministry, visited the area Wednesday.
“We disinfected the area and collected blood samples from chickens like we did in Kompong Trach,” he said.