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Phnom Penh (AFP) Feb 13, 2013
A three-year-old Cambodian girl has died from bird flu, bringing the country's toll from the deadly virus to six so far this year, the World Health Organisation said Wednesday.
The girl, from the southern province of Kampot, died in a children's hospital in the capital Phnom Penh, the WHO said in a joint statement with the Cambodian health ministry.
Tests confirmed she had contracted the H5N1 strain of avian influenza and "the girl had a history of coming into contact with poultry (in her village) prior to becoming sick", it added.
Cambodian Health Minister Mam Bunheng said in the statement that "H5N1 remains a serious threat to the health of Cambodians, especially children".
The country has recorded 28 cases of H5N1 since 2003, with all but three of them proving fatal.
Four Cambodians, including a 17-month-old girl, died from the strain last month and a five-year-old girl died last week.
The virus has killed more than 365 people worldwide since a major outbreak in 2003, according to WHO statistics.
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.
Chinese woman dies of bird flu
The 21-year-old patient from Guiyang passed away 13 days after showing symptoms, Xinhua news agency said, citing the health ministry.
Another city resident, a 31-year-old man who developed signs of the virus around the same time, was reported over the weekend to be in critical condition.
More than 365 people have died of bird flu globally since an 2003 outbreak, the World Health Organisation said in its latest report.
It noted that China has seen one fatal case per year since 2010, down from a total of 25 from 2003 to 2009.
The H5N1 virus typically spreads from birds to humans through direct contact, but experts fear it could mutate into a form transmissible between humans.
Xinhua said neither of the Guiyang residents had come into close contact with birds and their cases appeared to be unrelated.
China is considered one of the nations most at risk from bird flu epidemics because it has the world's biggest poultry population and many chickens in rural areas are kept close to humans.
Separate outbreaks among birds were reported last year in the northern region of Ningxia and the remote northwestern region of Xinjiang, prompting massive culls of chickens.
Epidemics on Earth - Bird Flu, HIV/AIDS, Ebola
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