Two New Cases of Bird Flu Confirmed in Kompong Cham

Two children from Kompong Cham province, a 10-year-old and an 11-year-old girl, have recovered after contracting the avian influenza virus, the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health said on Friday.

In the past year, which has seen the highest number of cases since the H5N1 virus was first discovered in Cambodia in 2004, a total of 26 people have been confirmed to have contracted the virus, and 12 have died.

“These are the 4th and fifth cases this year and the 51st and 52nd persons to become infected with the H5N1 virus in Cambodia,” the WHO and the Health Ministry said in a joint statement.

That the girls were found to have contracted bird flu, which has a mortality rate of about 60 percent, was due to fever surveillance by the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit 2 (NAMRU-2), according to the joint statement.

Both cases, from Cheung Prey district’s Knor Damborng commune and Ponhea Krek district’s Krek commune, were tested, confirmed positive for the disease and treated on February 20, making them the second and third cases that have survived due to pro-active surveillance and speedy treatment.

The U.S. Embassy said Friday that the NAMRU-2 missions were deployed to identify diseases that could pose a threat of “public health significance.” The embassy did not specify whether they had conducted surveillance in Kompong Cham province particularly to find avian influenza in humans.

“NAMRU-2 conducts passive group studies in which Cambo-dian villagers can volunteer to be tested for illnesses, which is how these cases of avian influenza were identified,” Sean McIntosh, the embassy’s spokesperson, said in an email Friday.

Previously, cases of H5N1 were discovered in Kratie province’s Snuol district, where at least two children contracted bird flu in Sre Chas commune after about 300 chickens, ducks and geese had died in the area.

The first confirmed H5N1 death in the village was a 7-year-old boy. His 3-year-old sister showed the same symptoms, but died before she could be tested for bird flu, and is therefore not included in the WHO’s statistics.

Shortly after, another case was detected in the same commune by the Ministry of Health’s rapid response team.

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