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Villagers Still Vigilant for Bird Flu


Despite much press for the H1N1 virus, sometimes called swine flu, villagers in Stung Treng province say bird flu remains foremost in their minds.

H1N1 flu spread rapidly after its outbreak in Mexico, but health experts worry bird flu might someday mutate into a virus capable of a deadly human pandemic.

One morning last week, 16-year-old Thun Chhaiya stood near her bicycle at a wooden home in Samkhuoy commune, Sesan district. The bicycle was decorated with a sticker: “For Cambodia Without Bird Flu.”

Veterinarians had given her the sticker, she said, and she’d kept it on her bike for two years, where it gained notice from schoolmates and neighbors.

“I know well how to protect myself from bird flu,” said the girl, who is raising 12 chickens and 30 ducks at her house.

Thun Chhaiya and many villagers in Sensan and Stung Treng districts raise poultry in pens at their homes, and on a recent visit, plastic gloves were seen hanging near many pens.

Villagers said that to protect themselves from bird flu, they burn or bury dead poultry, use plastic gloves to handle the birds, and eat only well-cooked eggs and meat. Villagers say they are careful to separate healthy birds from ill ones and they don’t allow their birds to mix with others.

Villagers say they are still very afraid of bird flu, which has killed seven Cambodians so far.

Ponh Seila, a 16-year-old student in Srash Russy commune, said she’d heard on the radio that the H1N1 virus had killed many people across the globe, but she was determined to remain vigilant for bird flu.

“Our people should avoid bird flu,” she said. “We should not eat ill and dead chickens; we should bury them.”

The Ministry of Agriculture’s Stung Treng provincial animal health and production chief, Sieng Meng Hoang, said villagers of Sensan and Stung Treng districts are much aware of the dangers of bird flu and often report ill poultry to local authorities.

“Although there is no bird flu here, we continue to monitor for it and disseminate prevention methods to people,” he said. “We have never ignored this illness.”

Heng Nhe, Stung Treng provincial health chief, said eight response teams in the province were ready to help treat people for the disease, but none so far had been detected.

Cambodia has had eight cases of the disease in total, with the last (and only non-lethal) case discovered in December 2008 in Kandal province.

Meanwhile, H1N1 has also appeared in the country, with 26 cases, none of them lethal, appearing since June.

Despite much press for the H1N1 virus, sometimes called swine flu, villagers in Stung Treng province say bird flu remains foremost in their minds.

H1N1 flu spread rapidly after its outbreak in Mexico, but health experts worry bird flu might someday mutate into a virus capable of a deadly human pandemic.

One morning last week, 16-year-old Thun Chhaiya stood near her bicycle at a wooden home in Samkhuoy commune, Sesan district. The bicycle was decorated with a sticker: “For Cambodia Without Bird Flu.”

Veterinarians had given her the sticker, she said, and she’d kept it on her bike for two years, where it gained notice from schoolmates and neighbors.

“I know well how to protect myself from bird flu,” said the girl, who is raising 12 chickens and 30 ducks at her house.

Thun Chhaiya and many villagers in Sensan and Stung Treng districts raise poultry in pens at their homes, and on a recent visit, plastic gloves were seen hanging near many pens.

Villagers said that to protect themselves from bird flu, they burn or bury dead poultry, use plastic gloves to handle the birds, and eat only well-cooked eggs and meat. Villagers say they are careful to separate healthy birds from ill ones and they don’t allow their birds to mix with others.

Villagers say they are still very afraid of bird flu, which has killed seven Cambodians so far.

Ponh Seila, a 16-year-old student in Srash Russy commune, said she’d heard on the radio that the H1N1 virus had killed many people across the globe, but she was determined to remain vigilant for bird flu.

“Our people should avoid bird flu,” she said. “We should not eat ill and dead chickens; we should bury them.”

The Ministry of Agriculture’s Stung Treng provincial animal health and production chief, Sieng Meng Hoang, said villagers of Sensan and Stung Treng districts are much aware of the dangers of bird flu and often report ill poultry to local authorities.

“Although there is no bird flu here, we continue to monitor for it and disseminate prevention methods to people,” he said. “We have never ignored this illness.”

Heng Nhe, Stung Treng provincial health chief, said eight response teams in the province were ready to help treat people for the disease, but none so far had been detected.

Cambodia has had eight cases of the disease in total, with the last (and only non-lethal) case discovered in December 2008 in Kandal province.

Meanwhile, H1N1 has also appeared in the country, with 26 cases, none of them lethal, appearing since June.

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