Cambodia on Saturday confirmed an outbreak of bird flu at a village near the Vietnamese border but cleared one suspected human case of the deadly disease.
Two samples out of 31 from poultry in Keatha Vong Leu village tested positive for the H5N1 virus although the outbreak had been contained after 139 chickens and ducks were culled, Agriculture minister Chan Sarun said.
“The two samples of chickens tested positive for the H5N1 virus. We received the results from the Pasteur Institute on March 25 at 5:00pm,” he told AFP.
Meanwhile Hon Sopheap, an 18-year-old from the same village suffering bird flu-like symptoms, tested negative for the virus, the head of the health ministry’s infectious disease department Ly Sovann said.
“The results for the 18-year-old man came out late Friday and showed he is not carrying the bird flu virus,” he told AFP.
The man reportedly killed sick chickens and ate them.
Chan Sarun said villagers from Keatha Vong Leu, where Cambodia’s second bird flu victim who died last Tuesday first fell sick, had not told officials about having sick chickens because they feared they would be culled.
The second victim, 28-year-old Meas Ran, had also eaten chickens at the village. He died in a Phnom Penh hospital.
The first victim reported in Cambodia, which borders both Vietnam and Thailand where a total of 47 people have died of the deadly H5N1 virus, was a woman aged 25 who died in Vietnam in January after seeking treatment there.
Her home village and Keatha Vong Leu are within 20 kilometres (12 miles) of each other.
Chan Sarun said health officials had fanned out across five villages in Kampot province’s Banteay Meas district, where transportation of poultry has already been banned, to educate them about the disease.
He said they would also travel across the province next week.
“We will keep monitoring the situation. We are not overly worried,” he said.
He added that health officials had also tested chickens from several markets in the capital Phnom Penh and the results were negative.
Health experts fear the H5N1 virus could mutate into a form transmissible between humans and lead to a global pandemic.