Joint press release issued by the Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation
Phnom Penh, 20 April 2011
The Ministry of Health (MoH) of the Kingdom of Cambodia wishes to advise members of the public that a 5-year-old girl from Thnot village, Kampong Pisey commune, Pea Raing district, Prey Veng Province died on 16th April as a result of respiratory complications after contracting human avian influenza virus H5N1. The patient became sick on 11th April. She was initially treated by local private practitioners. However her condition continued to worsen and she was later brought to and admitted to Kantha Bopha Children Hospital in Phnom Penh on 13th April. Despite intensive medical care, she died on 16th April. Samples that were sent to Institut Pasteur du Cambodge tested positive for influenza H5N1.
The girl is the fifteenth person in Cambodia to become infected with the H5N1 virus and the thirteenth to die from complications of the disease. All five cases of H5N1 infections in humans in Cambodia this year have been fatal. Four of the five cases were children.
"Avian influenza H5N1 is still a threat to the health of Cambodians. Compared to last year, we have seen more H5N1 cases this year and children appear to be most vulnerable. I urge parents and guardians to keep children away from sick or dead poultry, discourage them from playing in areas where poultry stay and wash their hands often. If they develop signs of respiratory infection, they should be brought to medical attention at the nearest health facilities and attending physicians be made aware of any exposure to sick or dead poultry." said HE Mam Bun Heng, Minister of Health.
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.
As in all previous cases, the Ministry of Health's Rapid Response Teams (RRT) are now in the area conducting field investigations to identify the girl's close contacts and initiate preventive treatment as required. A public health education campaign is being conducted 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 .
Health officials are also coordinating with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) teams who are investigating possible poultry deaths in the area.
From 2003 to 20th April 2011, there have been 15 laboratory-confirmed cases of H5N1 avian influenza in Cambodia. Fifty-three percent of the cases were children; all of whom died. Globally since 2003, there have been 549 laboratory confirmed cases of avian influenza with 320 related deaths.
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
Ministry of Health
Dr Sok Touch: Tel +855 12 856 848
Dr Ly Sovann: Tel +855 12 825 424
World Health Organization
Dr Michel Thieren: Tel +855 23 216 610
Dr Nima Asgari: Tel +855 23 216 610