Following four fatalities last month from bird flu, authorities across the country are scaling up efforts to fend off the virus ahead of the Lunar New Year, which annually sees a dramatic increase in the transportation and sale of poultry, health officials said yesterday.
Officials were spraying disinfectants in areas where poultry is kept and educating residents about how to keep from contracting the virus, said Ngan Nany, Kampong Chhnang province’s Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Department director.
“Officials will inspect poultry transported from outside the province or district and spray them to kill the virus before allowing them inside, where they will have to keep them separate from the poultry already there,” Nany said.
Villagers had been instructed to immediately report any suspected cases of bird flu to the local government and health offices, he said.
The Ministry of Health would remind officials to do such preventative work each year before Lunar New Year, he said.
Banteay Meanchey Provincial Deputy Governor Chhum Vannarith said that following a call for action against H5N1 from the ministries of Health and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, officials in his province mobilised in villages to spray disinfectant, hang informational banners and ask villagers to report suspected cases.
He added that chickens and ducks in transit would be monitored.
Sun Dany, Phnom Penh’s Kandal Market manager, said that the market was cleaned every day, with extra attention given to areas that held poultry.
Sonny Krishnan, communications officer for the World Health Organization in Cambodia, said that spraying disinfectant “doesn’t really kill the virus. It’s just to placate people”.
Effective prevention methods included thoroughly cooking poultry and eggs, hand-washing and keeping children from playing with poultry, he said.
Meanwhile, the Vietnamese government announced on Tuesday that its Preventative Medicine Department “has warned eight provinces near the border with Cambodia to step up their prevention and control measures against avian influenza.”
These measures involved increased poultry monitoring, reporting of suspected cases and readying of medical facilities, the state news site said.