A 7-year-old boy and his 3-year-old sister died from bird flu at Kompong Cham Provincial Referral Hospital on Friday, Hong Palla, team leader of the rapid response unit at Kratie Provincial Health Department, said Tuesday.
The two young siblings from Snuol district’s Sre Cha commune contracted the H5N1 virus on February 1 and were taken by their parents for treatment at Kompong Cham provincial hospital five days later.
“Before the children were sick they had touched and eaten poultry,” Mr. Palla said, explaining that the siblings’ parents had found a dead bird in the village and cooked it for dinner.
Loh Sophal died at about 1 a.m. Friday and her older brother, Loh Thea, died at 6 p.m. on the same day, Mr. Palla said. At the time of the children’s deaths almost all of the birds in the village had also died of an illness, he said.
Kratie provincial hospital cooperated with Kompong Cham provincial hospital to check if the children had avian influenza, Mr. Palla said.
“The boy victim was tested…the results show that the boy victim really had H5N1 but the girl victim died before she could be tested.”
However, he said it was concluded that the girl had also died from avian influenza because the pair had shown similar symptoms at the same time, after eating the chicken.
On Saturday, an official from the Provincial Health Department “came to the victim’s village to educate locals about the H5N1 virus…[telling them] not to eat or touch a sick bird,” Mr. Palla said.
A 5-year-old boy from Kompong Thom province’s Santuk district, who was confirmed positive for H5N1 on February 1, was named the first case of avian influenza this year by the Ministry of Health last week, after 2013 saw the worst outbreak of the virus the country has ever seen, with 12 fatalities.
Vicky Houfrie, communications officer at the World Health Organization in Phnom Penh, confirmed that there had been new fatalities from H5N1 but said, “We are waiting for the press release from the Ministry of Health before we can comment.”
(Additional reporting by Alice Cuddy)