Health officials in Cambodia have confirmed that a 11-year-old girl from Cambodia died of bird flu. This is the first case of the disease in Cambodia since 2014.
The girl, who was from Prey Veng in south-eastern Cambodian, became seriously ill on February 16.
According to the health ministry, she went to Phnom Penh’s capital hospital, where she was diagnosed with the flu on Wednesday. She had been suffering from a fever, throat pain, and coughing, and died shortly afterwards.
Local officials took samples from dead birds in a conservation area near the girl’s home. Teams also warned residents not to touch sick or dead birds.
Avian influenza is usually spread through poultry and was not considered a threat to human health until 1997 in Hong Kong. Most cases of Avian Influenza in humans were caused by direct contact with infected birds.
There have been concerns that the virus might have evolved to spread faster between people.
Mam Bunheng is Cambodia’s health minister. He said that bird flu poses a threat to children who might be playing with birds or collecting eggs from domestic chickens.
The flu, also known as H5N1, is similar to other flu symptoms. It causes a fever, cough, and sometimes can even lead to life-threatening pneumonia.
According to the World Health Organisation, Cambodia experienced 56 cases H5N1 between 2003 and 2014. 37 of these were fatal.
Globally, 870 people have been infected. In 21 countries, 457 deaths have been reported.
However, in the past seven years, the pace of infection has slowed to around 170 and 50 deaths.
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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, expressed concern over bird flu in mammals. He stated that H5N1 had spread extensively in wild birds and poultry over the past 25 years. However, it is important to monitor recent spillovers to mammals.
He said that still considers the risk of human flu in humans low.
He said, “But we can’t assume that this will continue and we must be prepared for any changes in the status quo.”
He advised that people should not touch sick or dead wild animals and that nations strengthen their surveillance over the areas where humans and animals interact.