Seventeenth case of avian influenza H5N1 in Cambodia in 2013

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

WHO Cambodia
Improper transport of poultry risks the spread of the H5N1 virus.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) of the Kingdom of Cambodia wishes to advise members of the public that one new human case of avian influenza has been confirmed for the H5N1 virus. This is the 17th case this year and the 38th person to become infected with the H5N1 virus in Cambodia. Of the 38 confirmed, 27 were children under 14, and 22 of the 38 were female. In addition, only 7 cases out of the 17 cases this year survived.

The 17th case, a 6-year-old boy from Prey Tathuk Village, Prek Sleng commune, Kandal Stung district in Kandal province confirmed positive for human H5N1 avian influenza on 17th August 2013 by Instiut Pasteur du Cambodge. The boy developed fever on 21st July and his parents tried to treat him with medicine purchased from a drug store in the village. His condition worsened and he was brought to the Beung Khyang Health Centre on 22nd July with fever, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting, cough and lethargy. On 23rd July, the boy was enrolled in an Acute Febrile Illness Surveillance (FSS) study, in Kandal, and samples were collected from him. Initial testing in the surveillance study indicated a possible H5N1 infection. On 16th August, the boy’s samples were sent in a batch to Instiut Pasteur du Cambodge for testing of H5N1. The boy has now recovered. The boy came into contact with sick poultry.

"Avian influenza H5N1 remains a serious threat to the health of all Cambodians and more so for children, who seem to be most vulnerable and are at high risk. This is the 17th case of H5N1 infection in humans this year. Parents and guardians must take special care to make sure their children are not playing with poultry, or in any areas that may be contaminated with poultry faeces, or feathers or liquid wastes. 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 H.E. Dr. Mam Bunheng, Minister of Health.

The Ministry of Health's Rapid Response Teams (RRT) are currently in Prey Tathuk Village in Kandal to identify the boy’s close contacts, any epidemiological linkage among the 17 cases and initiate preventive treatment as required. In addition, a public health education campaign is being conducted in the village using information, education and communications materials 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 dead or 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 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

You may also 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 ReikoTsuyuoka: Tel +855 23 216 610