Cambodia reports new human cases of H1N1 avian flu

The Kingdom of Cambodia's Ministry of Health reported two new human cases of H5N1 avian influenza, the 15th and 16th cases of 2013, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday.

The 15th case was in a nine-year-old boy from the Damnak Dangkor Village in the Battambang province. The boy carried dead and sick chickens and ducks from a cage for food preparation before becoming sick. He developed fever, vomiting, abdominal pain and dyspnea, and is now in stable condition after hospitalization and treatment with Tamiflu.

The 16th case was in a five-year-old girl from Knong Prek Village in the Kandal province. There were recent deaths among poultry in her village which may have caused her infection.

The girl developed fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea and dyspnea. She was hospitalized and treated with Tamiflu, and is currently in critical condition.

Cambodia reported 37 infections with the H5N1 virus overall since 2003, 26 of which were children under the age of 14. Only seven of the 16 cases in 2013 survived.

"I urge parents and guardians to keep children away from sick or dead poultry and prevent them from playing with chickens and ducks," Mam Bunheng, Cambodia's minister of health, said. "Parents and guardians must also make sure children wash their hands with soap and water after any contact with poultry. If they have fast or difficult breathing, they should seek medical attention at the nearest health facility and attending physicians must be made aware of any exposure to sick or dead poultry."

H5N1 influenza is a flu that typically spreads between sick poultry, but it can sometimes spread between poultry and humans. Human H5N1 avian influenza is a serious disease that requires hospitalization. While the virus does not currently spread easily human-to-human, if the virus changes it could spread like seasonal flu.

Since 2003, there were 636 laboratory human cases of H5N1 avian flu worldwide and 377 related deaths.