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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Six in 10 poultry stall samples H5N1-positive

Six in 10 poultry stall samples H5N1-positive

chickens
Chickens at the Olympic Market bide their time before the butcher calls. Photograph: Sovan Philong

Sixty per cent of environmental samples taken from poultry stalls in Cambodian markets this year tested positive for avian flu, a study by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge, in conjunction with the government, shows.

Results from the first seven weeks of the ongoing study showed environmental contamination had tripled from the 20 per cent contamination found by a study of the same markets in Phnom Penh, Kampong Cham and Takeo provinces in 2011, Lotfi Allal, chief technical adviser for the FAO in Cambodia, said yesterday.

“We collected 240 samples from four markets over seven weeks, and we found 145 of the samples had H5N1,” Sorn San, director of the National Veterinary Research Institute (NaVRI), said.

“The sixth week had higher positive results because it was Chinese New Year, so there was more transportation of poultry than in the other weeks.”

San said that as well as the risks of vendors selling sick poultry and failing to use adequate hygiene, the water used to clean infected poultry could flow through pipes into rivers, contaminating a wider area.

A document NaVRI sent to the World Organisation for Animal Health on Tuesday shows that this year, more than 3,000 poultry have died from H5N1.

More than 9,000 birds located near confirmed outbreaks have been destroyed, including more than 2,000 in Siem Reap province last month.

Decisions to cull occur on a local level, because the government lacks a policy to compensate poultry owners.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mom Kunthear at kunthear.mom@phnompenhpost.com and Justine Drennan at justine.drennan@phnompenhpost.com

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