Health authorities are calling on the public to be alert for bird flu following the deaths of eight Cambodians who were infected with H5N1 last year, and an outbreak of the disease has already been detected among poultry this year.
Ly Sovann, deputy director of the Ministry of Health’s communicable disease department, noted that bird flu cases had been found in China and Hong Kong last month, and that the virus usually begins appearing in December.
“We appeal to the public and health officials to be on constant alert,” he said. Suspected cases require immediate hospitalisation, he said. Patients who develop symptoms of high fever, fatigue and coughing after being in contact with a sick or dead chicken should go to a hospital for examination or call the 115 hotline, he said.
Last year’s eight deaths raised the number of human cases of bird flu in Cambodia to 18 since 2005, when the first human case of the disease was detected. Sixteen of the 18 people diagnosed with the virus have died.
Last year also saw the spread of avian flu from areas along the border with Vietnam to areas along the border with Thailand. Bird flu was found in both poultry and humans in Banteay Meanchy province – where a mother and her child died in February – and among poultry at a farm in Battambang province.
Kieu Sambat, deputy director of Prey Veng province’s department of agriculture, said health officials and veterinarians were cooperating to educate people about the risk posed by sick or dead poultry.
After two deaths in the province from H5N1 last year, officials were conducting education campaigns two or three times a month rather than once a month, he said.