Three-year-old Cambodian boy dies from H5N1 influenza infection

The Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Cambodia recently announced a novel human case of avian influenza H5N1 affected a 3-year-old boy and led to his death.

The boy was from Prey Lyea village, Sangkat Chom-Chao commune, Khan Por-SenChey district, Phnom Penh province and experienced an onset of symptoms on February 22. His parents sought medical attention on the same day.

By February 28 the boy's condition worsened, and he was admitted to National Pediatric Hospital that day. He was transferred to Calmette Hospital on March 2, where he died one hour after admittance.

While the investigation of this case remains ongoing, health authorities found that the boy often spent time with a neighbor whose poultry died in mid-February. The boy had no confirmed contact with the poultry, but the chickens died in close proximity to the neighbor's home, possibly resulting in the transmission of disease.

The boy's infection marks the sixth human case of avian influenza H5N1 in Cambodia this year and the 53rd case since 2005. Of the 53 human cases reported, 41 were children less than 14 years of age and 29 were female.

In response to this case and the sudden death in mid-February of more than 90 percent of chickens and some ducks in Prey Lyea village, the Cambodian Ministry of Health initiated a radio campaign to increase public awareness about the disease.

Health officials asked that parents forbid their children from playing with chickens or ducks or playing in areas where poultry resides. Health authorities also asked the public to mind their personal hygiene as a way to prevent infection.