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Boy, 9, Kingdom’s 10th bird flu victim of year

The nine-year-old boy from Battambang province confirmed to be Cambodia’s 15th case of bird flu this year died late last night in Jayavarman VII Hospital in Siem Reap.

The boy had carried sick and dead ducks and chickens for food preparation in Sangke district, where poultry were known to have been infected by the H5N1 virus, before developing a fever on July 26. He was later taken to a private clinic, then transferred to Battambang provincial hospital on August 2. After being admitted to Jayavarman VII Hospital on August 4 and administered Tamiflu, he remained stable, but his condition quickly deteriorated.

This year has been witness to a record 10 deaths out of 16 reported cases of H5N1, leaving the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) worried, noted Sonny Krishnan, communications officer for the WHO in Cambodia.

“We are very concerned over the unusual increase in cases. If you look at previous trends, peak time typically occurs during the dry season from November through February” versus the wet season, Krishnan said.

The repeated incidents of children coming into contact with sick poultry in Cambodia call for heightened vigilance, emphasised Ly Sovann, deputy director of the Communicable Disease Control Department.

“The ministry is very concerned about the latest outbreak, which is why we have begun collaborating with the Ministry of Agriculture. We’re doing our best to control it. Another concern is human-to-human transmission, which is not yet present in Cambodia,” Sovann said.

The nation’s 16th case, a five-year-old girl from Kandal province who last week was in critical condition at Phnom Penh’s Kantha Bopha Hospital, has since been on the mend and is expected to be released soon, the hospital’s Dr Denis Laurent told the Post.

Containing infected poultry is the best way to avoid the spread of infection, which is particularly difficult in a country where production remains predominately localised.

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