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Officials investigating two avian flu outbreaks

Chickens and ducks are sold at Phnom Penh’s O’Russey Market in 2015. A recent outbreak of H5N1 avian flu emerged in Svay Rieng province last week.
Chickens and ducks are sold at Phnom Penh’s O’Russey Market in 2015. A recent outbreak of H5N1 avian flu emerged in Svay Rieng province last week. Hong Menea

Officials investigating two avian flu outbreaks

The Ministry of Health is testing a suspected human avian flu case following an outbreak in poultry in Svay Rieng province, with experts also investigating a different avian virus – H7N3 – new to Cambodia and discovered in ducks last month in Kampong Thom province, officials said yesterday.

Dr Sen Sovann, deputy secretary-general at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said a total of 65 domestic chickens, belonging to three households in Bayab village in Svay Chrum district, were found dead on January 25. Animal health officials then had to cull another 224 chickens and destroy 100 eggs to prevent further spread.

Officials on Saturday received results confirming avian flu to be behind the die-off, Sovann said. “Measures were taken . . . to prevent further spreading,” he said. “Culling was done to prevent incidents in humans.”

However, Ly Sovann, spokesman for the Ministry of Health, said yesterday that officials were also conducting a search for active human cases, and that one suspected case was being tested.

The last avian flu case in a human reported in the Kingdom was in 2014. As of last year, Cambodia had reported 42 avian influenza outbreaks among poultry, but just 56 human cases since 2004.

Last May, four human cases were suspected in Kampot following a poultry outbreak, but the results came back negative. A total of 349 chickens, one duck and 37 chicken eggs were culled.

“We will monitor the area and nearby villagers for 30 days,” Sen Sovann said of the Bayab village area. “Ten kilometres are under investigation.”

Meanwhile, Sovann said animal health officials were working with researchers at the Pasteur Institute to determine the cause of an outbreak of H7N3, an avian virus new to Cambodia that emerged in ducks in Kampong Thom last month.

Some 300 ducks were culled to prevent further spread of the virus, which has appeared in other countries, such as Mexico and Canada. “It’s not new in the world, but it’s new in Cambodia,” he said. “It’s a new case. We don’t know if it’s highly pathogenic.”

Sovann said that the ducks had been raised in a very isolated area in Trea village Kampong Thom’s Stoung district, and that the owners were cooperating.

“We will continue to work with the Pasteur Institute to understand the case,” he said. A Pasteur official could not be reached yesterday.

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