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H5N6 avian influenza virus detected in Takeo chickens

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Pig farms at Ratanakiri. Officials said that the discovery of H5N6 has coincided with the first outbreak of African swine fever on March 22 in Som Thom commune in Ratanakkiri province’s O’Yadav district. Supplied

H5N6 avian influenza virus detected in Takeo chickens

Following official confirmation on Sunday that the highly pathogenic H5N6 avian influenza virus was detected in chickens sold at a Takeo province market in February and March, experts reassured the public that the virus is not dangerous to humans.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said samples taken from the Donkeo town market tested positive for H5N6, according to Sokkhoeun Oum, the national communications and advocacy officer of the FAO’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) in Cambodia.

“All the positive H5N6 samples were collected in the first quarter of 2019 and were tested positive for H5N6 in February and March 2019 by the Pasteur Institute in Cambodia,” Oum said in an email on Sunday.

Oum added that the findings were sent to the General Directorate of Animal Health and Production immediately after testing was completed.

‘No effect on human health’General Directorate of Animal Health and Production director-general Tan Phannara confirmed that H5N6 was found among chickens being sold in Donkeo town, but said it was not a widespread outbreak because subsequent research by technical officers had not shown any more chickens dying from the virus.

“There are no reports that H5N6 has affected human health, unlike H5N1. Not only in our country, even abroad there are no reports of H5N6 leading to deaths of humans,” Phannara added.

He added that the disease only results in death among chickens. He said he did not know how many chickens had died from H5N6, but said technical officers had sprayed disinfectant in all locations where the virus had been found in the market to prevent its spread.

“We continue to follow up to find out where the sick chickens have come from, because sometimes the dealers buy wholesale at the market and the sellers say the chickens came from here or there even when they really don’t know,” Phannara said.

He said the discovery of H5N6 has coincided with the first outbreak of African swine fever on March 22 in Som Thom commune in Ratanakkiri province’s O’Yadav district.

Phannara said it is suspected that African swine fever has spread to the province’s O’Chum district as more pigs have been dying there. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has sent officers to investigate, he added.