Emergencies preparedness, response

Avian influenza – situation in Cambodia

24 March 2006

The Ministry of health in Cambodia has confirmed the country’s fifth case of human infection with the H5N1 avian influenza virus. The case, which was fatal, occurred in a 3-year-old girl from Kampong Speu Province, west of Phnom Penh in the southern part of the country.

The child developed fever on 14 March. Her condition deteriorated rapidly and she was hospitalized in Phnom Penh on 20 March. She died on 21 March. Samples from the girl tested positive for H5N1 infection at the Pasteur Institute in Cambodia.

A team of officials from the Ministry of Health and WHO have investigated the situation in the remote village where the child lived. Backyard poultry began dying in the village in February, and chicken deaths have continued. The child is known to have played with chickens, including some showing signs of illness.

The investigation found seven residents with fever but no respiratory symptoms. All had a history of recent contact with diseased birds or had been involved in caring for the child. Although none of these people presently shows symptoms compatible with H5N1 infection, all have been placed under medical observation as a precaution. Samples have been taken from these people and other close contacts of the child. Test results are expected next week.

The Ministry of Agriculture has taken samples from chickens in the area. Testing is under way.

This is the fifth confirmed case in Cambodia and the first in almost a year. The four previous cases, all from the adjacent Kampot Province which borders Viet Nam, and all fatal, occurred from end-January 2005 through mid-April 2005.