Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ministries, NGO teaming up for avian influenza research

Ministries, NGO teaming up for avian influenza research

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A research team from WCS Cambodia and ministry officials conduct avian influenza surveillance at Prek Toal in Battambang province on December 8. WCS CAMBODIA

Ministries, NGO teaming up for avian influenza research

Two ministries and a wildlife NGO are working together to conduct research on avian influenza in wild birds in protected areas as well as in domesticated birds in an effort to detect any unknown outbreaks of the virus and promote awareness of the risks posed by avian virus transmission to humans.

The field research and collection of samples is primarily being conducted by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS Cambodia); the Wildlife and Biodiversity Department under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; and the Ministry of Environment’s Freshwater Wetland Department. The laboratory testing of the samples will be handled by the Institut Pasteur du Cambodge (IPC).

WCS country director Ken Serey Rotha told The Post on December 12 that the field research conducted on December 7-8 was also joined by personnel from the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre run by the Forestry Administration, Battambang provincial environment department and Siem Reap provincial Animal Health and Production Office.

The research team recently conducted avian influenza – also known as bird flu – surveillance at Prek Toal in Battambang’s Ek Phnom district. They took samples from both wild birds and domesticated poultry at locations where they were in closer proximity to each other.

The team also collected samples at four other protected areas: Boeung Prek Lapov in Takeo province, Anlong Pring in Kampot province and Boeung Sne in Prey Veng province. All of the samples will be sent to the lab and tested for avian influenza virus.

“The study is part of WCS Cambodia’s plan to document any potential impacts of the virus through sample collection and testing for viruses in wild and domestic birds, especially rare birds. In the past, we did this to a limited degree, but now we are starting to expand the target areas of our conservation work,” he said.

He said that at this point, the team has collected samples but have not yet sent them to the laboratory for testing because they need to organise the samples from the various sites first.

“We take samples from a diverse array of birds, especially rare and endangered species. If we find any unhealthy birds that are nesting or dying, we take a sample from that group. But our goal is to detect any illnesses in the rare and endangered birds,” said Serey Ratha.

He said if the samples analysed in the laboratory are positive for bird flu, the team will inform the public not to hunt or eat the birds because they can transmit the virus to humans.

According to Serey Ratha, samples were taken from rare wild birds such as the giant Ibis and spot-billed pelican and common domestic birds such as chickens and ducks. The study is supported with funding from the US Defence Threat Reduction Agency.


  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • Nestle’s debut may spur dairy market

    Leading confectionery manufacturer Nestle plans to invest in Cambodia by setting up an operation in the near future, a move majorly hailed by local dairy farmers as a means of boosting the fresh milk market in the Kingdom. During a visit by a delegation led

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement