March 31, 2006


H5N1 virus found in poultry near Cambodia's bird flu victim


Poultry raised by the neighbour of a toddler who died from bird flu were infected by the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus, according to test results on birds in the southern Cambodian village, officials said Friday (Mar 31).


Mon Puthy, 3, who died from bird flu last Tuesday, might have been infected after playing near the droppings of infected poultry, said Kao Phal, director of the Agriculture Ministry's animal health department.


Cambodian officials on Friday swept Tuol Prik village to cull remaining poultry to prevent the spread of the virus.


Kao Phal said the virus was found in a duck and a chicken from the neighbour's house, but not among the poultry raised by the girl's family.


The two birds found to be infected were from a batch of samples from 78 ducks and 17 chickens taken Mar 24 from the village in Kampong Speu province, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in its latest bulletin released Friday.


Farther south, in Kampot province's Angkor Chey district, the FAO said Friday that officials culled about 160 ducks and chickens after finding three ducks that tested positive for the H5N1 virus.


At least 105 people have died worldwide from bird flu since a wave of outbreaks of the H5N1 strain swept through Asian poultry populations in late 2003.


The human cases generally are traced to direct contact with sick birds, but medical experts fear the virus could mutate into form that spreads among people, sparking a pandemic.