Two-Year-Old Girl Becomes Ninth Victim of Bird Flu This Year

A 2-year-old girl has become the latest person to die of bird flu in Cambodia this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health said Monday.

The child’s death brings to 56 the total number of people who have died in Cambodia of the H5N1 avian influenza virus since 2005. 

The little girl, from Kampot province’s Banteay Meas district, fell ill with a fever on March 8 and after being treated firstly by a private doctor and then a private clinic, she was admitted to Kantha Bopha Hospital in Phnom Penh on March 13, a joint statement said.

“She had symptoms of fever, cough and [shortness of breath] and Tamiflu was administered on the same day. The girl died on March 14,” the statement said.

The child’s death was the ninth from the disease since the start of the year.

Tissue samples collected at the hospital were confirmed by the Pasteur Institute to be infected with H5N1.

According to the WHO statement, poultry began dying in the girl’s village, and at her house, at the start of February.

“At the end of February and beginning of March, it is estimated that 90 percent of poultry in the village died,” the statement said.

“The girl had direct contact with dead chickens, while her relatives prepared them for food, and the girl ate them.”

The little girl was the second person to succumb to the disease in Banteay Meas district since last year, when another girl also died from bird flu, according to WHO communications officer Vicky Houssiere.

“There was one case this year, and in 2013 there was another case in Banteay Meas district,” Ms. Houssiere said. “But it was not the same village or commune. There have been 12 cases in Kampot since 2005.”

In 2005, a 27-year-old man also died of bird flu in Banteay Meas district.

Health Minister Mam Bunheng again urged families to ensure that sick or dead poultry are discarded and that people wash their hands after coming into contact with poultry.

“I urge parents and guardians to keep children away from sick or dead poultry and prevent them from playing with chickens or ducks,” he said in the joint statement.

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