Bird Flu Confirmed Reaches Cambodia


Outbreak among animals, not yet in humans

PHNOM PENH — ; Cambodia confirmed Friday that the bird flu has broken out in the country, RFA's Khmer service reports. Cambodia is the sixth Asian country to be affected by the virus.

"On 23 Jan. 2004, the result of the analysis by the Pasteur Institute in France confirmed that there were cases of the bird flu caused by a virus strain in the H5N1 sub-order," Cambodian agriculture minister Chan Sarun said in a televised statement. "This H5N1 virus is the type of disease that spreads from birds to humans and that can cause death to humans. So far, there has been no report on suspected cases of bird flu in humans in the Kingdom of Cambodia."

"With the aim of preventing the spread of this disease, the Ministry of Agriculture has taken measures to temporarily ban the transport, buying, and selling of birds, birds' eggs, fresh and frozen bird's meat, and products originating from domesticated and wild birds from countries affected by the bird flu," the statement said.

An official with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Bangkok told Agence France-Presse that the agency is working closely with the Cambodian government to assess the situation and any additional need for outside assistance.

"Our next step is to inform people countrywide to report any dead chickens," deputy director general of Cambodia's agriculture ministry San Vanthy told reporters. "We will take serious measures to prevent the spread of the disease...We don't want people to panic, but we want to give them the correct information so they know what to do."

Cambodia is the sixth Asian country to feel the effects of bird flu. Other countries infected are Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, with confirmed fatalities reaching five people in Vietnam and one in Thailand.

The European Union (EU), Japan, Singapore, the Philippines, and other nations have banned the import of chickens from Thailand after the country admitted Friday that the outbreak was spreading rapidly. The delayed confirmation brought forth speculation that Thailand held back its announcement to avoid a significant drop in its billion-dollar chicken industry.

The World Health Organization issued a statement Friday saying people infected with the bird flu should be quarantined from people suffering from regular influenza. The two strains can have a deadly effect on a person as well as increase the spread of the outbreak.

Thailand confirmed Friday that two boys aged 6 and 7 had been diagnosed with bird flu.


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