Eighth New Human Case of Avian Influenza H5N1 in Cambodia in 2013

Joint news release of the Ministry of Health of the Kingdom of Cambodia and World Health Organization

The Ministry of Health (MoH) of the Kingdom of Cambodia wishes to advise members of the public that one more new human case of avian influenza has been confirmed positive for the H5N1 virus.

The eighth case, a 20-month-old boy from Ang Romduol village, Angkor Chey commune, Angkor Chey district in Kampot province, was found positive for influenza H5N1 on 19th February 2013 by Institut Pasteur du Cambodge. He developed fever and runny nose on 6th February 2013 and was initially treated by local private practitioners. His condition worsened and he was admitted to Kantha Bopha Hospital on 18th February 2013 with fever, cough and dyspnea and died on 19th February 2013. There is evidence of recent deaths among poultry in the village.

The boy is the eighth person this year and twenty-ninth person to become infected with H5N1 virus, and the twenty-sixth person to die from complications of the disease in Cambodia. Of the twenty-nine confirmed cases, 20 were children under 14, and nineteen of the twenty-nine were female.

"Avian influenza H5N1 remains a serious threat to the health of Cambodians, especially children. This is the eighth case of H5N1 infection in humans this year, and children still seem to be most vulnerable. Children are at high risk because they may play where poultry are found and I urge parents and guardians to keep children away from sick or dead poultry and prevent them from playing with chickens and ducks. Parents and guardians must also make sure children wash their hands with soap and water after any contact with poultry. If they have fast or difficult breathing, they should seek medical attention at the nearest health facility and attending physicians must be made aware of any exposure to sick or dead poultry. The greatest risk of exposure to the virus is through the handling and slaughter of infected poultry. Home slaughtering and preparation of sick or dead poultry for food is hazardous: this practice must be stopped”, said HE Dr. Mam Bunheng, Minister of Health.

The Ministry of Health's Rapid Response Teams (RRT) have gone to the hospital and the field to identify the boy’s close contacts, any epidemiological linkage among the eight cases and initiate preventive treatment as required. In addition, a public health education campaign is being conducted in the village to inform families on how to protect themselves from contracting avian influenza. The government's message is - wash hands often; keep children away from poultry; keep poultry away from living areas; do not eat sick poultry; and all poultry eaten should be well cooked.

H5N1 influenza is a flu that normally spreads between sick poultry, but it can sometimes spread from poultry to humans. Human H5N1 Avian Influenza is a very serious disease that requires hospitalization. Although the virus currently does not easily spread among humans, if the virus changes it could easily be spread like seasonal influenza. Hence, early recognition of cases is important.

The Ministry of Health will continue to keep the public informed of developments via the MoH website www.cdcmoh.gov.kh where relevant health education materials can also be downloaded.

For more information on human influenza please call the MoH Influenza Hotline numbers: 115 (free call); 012 488 981 or 089 669 567

Or contact:

Ministry of Health
Dr Sok Touch: Tel +855 12 856 848
Dr Ly Sovann: Tel +855 12 825 424

World Health Organization
Dr Pieter JM van Maaren: Tel +855 23 216 610
Dr Reiko Tsuyuoka: Tel +855 23 216 610