NEARLY one hundred people living in the immediate vicinity of Cambodia's first confirmed human case of the H5N1 virus in over a year have been tested as authorities scramble to determine the extent of the latest outbreak.
Blood samples from people who had contact with the 19-year-old man diagnosed with avian influenza have so far revealed no signs of the disease, a health official said.
The 19-year-old is the Kingdom's eighth known case of bird flu, and all previous cases have been fatal. Though the disease has killed fewer than 30 people worldwide this year, the threat lies in the flu's potential to mutate into a strain transferrable between humans that could set off a lethal global pandemic.
According to Sok Touch, the director of the Communicable Disease Control Department at the Ministry of Health, 99 villagers from Kandal and Kampong Speu provinces have been tested and, so far, no new cases have been found. Not all 99 blood samples, however, have been processed.
Kao Phal, director of the Animal Health and Production Department at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said Tuesday that they have collected 76 ducks, chicken and geese from the two provinces for testing and expect results to be ready later this week.
"We will take immediate action to destroy the birds if bird flu is found," he said.
According to Kao Phal, authorities have educated villagers throughout the country about how to avoid avian influenza by providing booklets and leaflets to villagers.
"We know that villagers understand how to protect themselves from bird flu, but still people get infected," he said.