Cambodian Ministry of Health reports 23rd case of avian influenza H5N1

The Kingdom of Cambodia's Ministry of Health announced on Tuesday the 23rd case of avian influenza H5N1 in Cambodia this year, and asked that Cambodians take precautions against contracting the virus.

The 23rd victim was a two-year-old girl from the Svay Chrum village, Borng Bort Kandal commune, Bakane district, Pursat province. The girl developed a fever on Oct. 17, received treatment from a local practitioner on Oct. 19, was hospitalized on Oct. 25 and died on Oct. 26; laboratory samples tested positive for avian flu on Oct. 30.

There have been 44 total cases of H5N1 infection in Cambodia. Of the 44 confirmed cases, 33 were children under the age of 14; 27 of the 44 were female and only 11 of the 23 confirmed cases this year survived the infection.

As a result of the outbreak, the Cambodian government launched a public health campaign via radio in early October to warn people of the avian influenza viral threat. Public health campaigns are also underway in Svay Chrum village to inform families about H5N1 prevention methods, which include washing hands often, not eating dead or sick poultry, keeping live poultry away from living areas, keeping children away from live poultry and ensuring all poultry is well-cooked before consumption.

"Avian influenza H5N1 remains a serious threat to the health of all Cambodians and more so for children, who seem to be most vulnerable and are at high risk," Cambodian Minister of Health Dr. Mam Bunheng said. "I urge parents and guardians to keep children away from sick or dead poultry and prevent them from playing with chickens and ducks. Parents and guardians must also make sure children thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water before eating and after any contact with poultry... If children have fast or difficult breathing, their parents should seek medical attention at the nearest health facility and attending physicians must be made aware of any exposure to sick or dead poultry."