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Young boy is tenth to contract bird flu

Last night, a five-  year-old boy was in a critical condition with what doctors said was the tenth confirmed case of bird flu this year.

Dr Denis Laurent, of Kantha Bopha hospital, said the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge had confirmed the boy’s H5N1 diagnosis on Tuesday night.

“He is in critical condition, but he is still alive,” Laurent said.

The boy’s sister, who was admitted with a fever, had tested negative for the virus, Laurent said.

Heng Chantha, Communicable Disease Control Bureau office chief of the Kampot provincial health department, said yesterday the boy had been ill for a week and  had been transferred to Phnom Penh’s Kantha Bopha hospital after doctors were unable to treat him.

“His parents did not know their son had H5N1. The boy’s family lives in the mountains, far away from other famil-ies, and they do not feed any poultry,” he said.

“We suspect that the boy has touched a dead, or sick, wild bird.”

Although the vast majority of human H5N1 cases come from domestic poultry, it is possible for wild birds to be infected with the virus.

Chantha said he and forestry and agriculture officials went to the family’s home “to see the situation, but we did not spray to kill the virus because we did not see any poultry or dead birds”.

Kampot town governor Neak Sovannary said auth-orities were continuing to investigate the source of the boy’s virus.

“We keep educating and spreading information about how to prevent, and avoid, H5N1 in my village,” Sovannary said.

Since January, there have been 10 confirmed H5N1 cases and eight deaths — a marked increase from the equivalent period in previous years and a cause for concern among health officials.

The last case, however, in which a 35-year-old man died, had occurred more than a month ago.

World Health Organisation spokesman Sonny Krishnan said it was not surprising to have a spike in cases of the   virus close to the holidays.

The virus’s spread in January and February was “very much due to the movement of poultry due to the Lunar New Year”, Krishnan said.

“We have enhanced surveillance in preparation for Khmer New Year.”



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