Ninth 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 ninth case, a 35-year-old man from Kbal Ou village, Me Sar Chrey commune, Stueng Trang district in Kampong Cham province, was confirmed positive for influenza H5N1 on 23rd February 2013 by Institut Pasteur du Cambodge. He developed fever on 8th February 2013 and his condition worsened on 10th February 2013 with fever, frequent cough, and dyspnea. Local private practitioners initially treated him but his condition further deteriorated. On 13th February he was admitted to the Kampong Cham Hospital with fever, severe cough and dyspnea and was immediately treated with Tamiflu. He developed pneumonia on 21st February and was transferred to Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh. Unfortunately, despite intensive medical care he died on 25th February. There is evidence of recent deaths among poultry in the village and the man had history of coming into contact with sick poultry prior to becoming sick. The man is the ninth person this year and the thirtieth person to become infected with the H5N1 virus, and the twenty-seventh person to die from complications of the disease in Cambodia. Of the 30 confirmed cases, 20 were children under 14, and 19 of the 30 were female.

"Avian influenza H5N1 remains a serious threat to the health of all Cambodians. This is the ninth case of H5N1 infection in humans this year. 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 stop. Children also seem to be most vulnerable and are at high risk because they like to play where poultry are found. 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,” said HE Dr. Mam Bunheng, Minister of Health.

The Ministry of Health's Rapid Response Teams (RRT) have gone to the hospitals and the field to identify the man’s close contacts, any epidemiological linkage among the nine 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

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