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Girl, 6, dies of bird flu

Health officials yesterday announced the ninth death from avian influenza in Cambodia so far this year – the first from a confirmed case of H5N1 since a string of fatalities in January and February.

The latest victim, a 6-year-old girl from Kampot province’s Banteay Meas district, was admitted to Phnom Penh’s Kantha Bopha Hospital on June 28 and treated with Tamiflu but died later that night, says yesterday’s statement from the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization.

The girl developed fever and a headache on June 24 and was taken to a clinic two days later when she developed a cough and shortness of breath before being sent to Kantha Bopha.

“There have been recent poultry deaths in the village and the girl was likely to be exposed to sick and dead poultry before she became sick,” the statement says.

The girl was the 13th person so far this year to be confirmed with bird flu – higher than any previous year’s total. Only four have recovered. Sonny Krishnan, spokesperson for the WHO in Cambodia, pointed out that five of the confirmed cases and four of the fatalities had been from Kampot, adding that teams now were performing tests in the province.

According to the joint statement, the total number of confirmed cases this year increased to 11 in May and 12 in June when labs re-tested samples taken in January that had been found positive for other kinds of flu at the time the patients were ill.

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