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Phnom Penh (AFP) Feb 12, 2014
An eight-year-old boy has died from bird flu in Cambodia, the country's first confirmed fatality from the deadly virus this year, a health official said Wednesday.
The boy's two-year-old sister also died on the same day after showing symptoms of H5N1 but officials could not carry out tests before her death to confirm if she had the virus, said Sok Touch of the Ministry of Health.
He said the siblings, who died hours apart at the same hospital on Friday, had come into contact with poultry before they fell sick in their village in eastern Kratie province.
"We are appealing to the people to be vigilant (about bird flu) because the virus can still be found in poultry in the country," he added.
Authorities in the impoverished kingdom have struggled to control bird flu outbreaks in Cambodia, which recorded 14 deaths from the illness last year, the deadliest outbreak of the virus in the country since 2003.
The virus has killed hundreds of people worldwide since a major outbreak in 2003, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
It typically spreads from birds to humans through direct contact. But experts fear it could mutate into a form easily transmissible between humans, with the potential to trigger a pandemic.
Cambodian children are at particular risk as they often live in close proximity to poultry, according to health authorities.
Hong Kong reports fifth H7N9 bird flu case
A 65-year-old man who had underlying medical conditions was hospitalised Tuesday after developing a fever and a cough and was in critical condition, the health department said in a statement late Wednesday.
He tested positive for H7N9, it said, adding it was an "imported case".
Preliminary investigations showed the man had travelled to the neighbouring Chinese province of Guangdong from January 24 to February 9, and had purchased a slaughtered chicken in the village near his residence on January 29.
Seven family members had remained asymptomatic, with five classified as close contacts to be admitted to hospital for observation and testing.
Hong Kong late last month slaughtered 20,000 chickens after the deadly H7N9 bird flu virus was found in poultry imported from Guangdong.
Fears over avian flu have grown following the deaths of three men from the H7N9 strain in the city. All had recently returned from mainland China.
In the latest case on January 29, a 75-year-old man died shortly after he travelled to the neighbouring Chinese city of Shenzhen where there were poultry markets close to where he lived.
A 65-year-old man died on January 14 and an 80-year old man died on December 26 last year.
A total of 31 people died from H7N9 bird flu in mainland China in January, the government announced Monday, making it by far the worst month in the outbreak.
There were a total of 127 confirmed human H7N9 cases in January, according to a statement by the National Health and Family Planning Commission.
Hong Kong is particularly alert to the spread of viruses after an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) swept through the city in 2003, killing 299 people and infecting around 1,800.
Epidemics on Earth - Bird Flu, HIV/AIDS, Ebola
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