Amid concerns the Pchum Ben holiday will lead to a spike in bird flu cases, health officials have begun to roll out a widespread education campaign aimed at stanching the spread of H5N1.
The highly fatal flu has seen 20 cases and 11 deaths this year alone, and typically surges around the Pchum Ben and New Years holidays – when families prepare livestock for meals and offerings.
In a series of radio spots rolled out over the weekend, announcers urge Cambodians to avoid dead or sick poultry and ensure the birds are properly cooked.
“The virus is still spreading in our country and at least 10 people have died from it during this year.… If a resident has a fever above 38C, difficulty breathing and has been in contact with an ill or dead bird, rush children to a nearby hospital or call 115,” the radio recording instructs.
Public health messages will primarily be disseminated over the radio, said Ly Sovann, deputy director of the communicable disease control department.
“We are using radio because we hope that it will educate many [including] those living in distant areas. We have also started an education campaign to raise awareness in several communes and Takeo and Kampot province,” Sovann said.