Cambodia was awaiting results of tests on an 18-year-old man suspected of carrying the bird flu virus who would be the third case found in the kingdom if confirmed, health officials said.
“We took another sample (from a suspected victim) to be tested at the Pasteur Institute” in Phnom Penh, health minister Nuth Sokhom told reporters.
“We are monitoring the case.”
Yim Voeunthan, secretary of state at the ministry of agriculture, said that the man, whom other officials identified as Hon Sopheap, was from the village of Keatha Vong Leu in Kampot province’s Banteay Meas district.
“The teenager had killed sick chickens and eaten them,” he said.
He said that Cambodia’s second bird flu victim Meas Ran, who was from Tram Sasor village in the same district, had been staying at Keatha Vong Leu when he fell ill. The 28-year-old died in Phnom Penh on Tuesday.
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, Tram Sasor and Keatha Vong Leu are all within around 20 kilometres (12 miles) of each other.
Lim Kaing Eang, head of Kampot’s provincial health office, told AFP that the latest suspected case had been isolated at a hospital in Angkor Chey district.
“He has a serious fever and cough too,” he said, adding that many people in the village had eaten sick chickens.
Nuth Sokhom on Friday said second victim Meas Ran had also eaten chickens which had fallen sick and died. Eight people who had been in contact with him as well as hospital staff have been tested for bird flu but cleared.
The minister said health and agricultural officials were closely monitoring the area. Transport of poultry in and out of the district has already been banned.
The ministry of agriculture’s Yim Voeunthan said officials were on high alert and the results of the tests on two samples of chickens were expected late Friday.
“Our officials have been monitoring the area since three days ago. We are awaiting the results from the Pasteur Institute… If the results are positive, we will immediately announce them,” he added.
Health experts have warned that the H5N1 virus could lead to a pandemic if it mutates into a form which can be easily transmitted between humans.