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In Kampong Thom, Bird Flu Doubts

Poultry farmers in several villages of Kampong Thom province say they don’t care about bird flu prevention, claiming they have never seen an outbreak.

“Everyone here raises ducks, and they never wear gloves or masks,” Chheng Lay, who has 300 ducks in Svay Sar village, Stoung district, said. “Nothing happens to them.”

Cambodian authorities are working to educate villagers on the dangers of avian influenza, which health experts worry can mutate into a form that can be transmitted human-to-human. So far, seven Cambodians in bird flu outbreaks since 2005.

Not all villagers may believe in a bird flu threat, but the government and others continue to educate.

“We try to invent a story with information related to deaths of birds in their villages,” said Ou Bosophoan, director of the provincial agricultural department of Kampong Thom. “But we depend on all sectors, NGOs, the department itself, to educate people.”

Even if adults don’t get it yet, he said, they were working to teach the young and others, through various means.

“The most important thing is to educate young children in school and promote bird flu awareness through monks when they preach,” he said.