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Bird Flu Prompted Quick Response: Officials

A new outbreak of avian influenza in Takeo province last week prompted a quick response from the government, leading to the culling of hundreds of birds, a health official said Monday.

“In a response to the outbreak, the department of animal health and production of the Agriculture Ministry has culled 500 chickens and 760 ducks in the affected area within 5 kilometers,” said Kao Phal, director of the animal health department.

“We cooperated with police, law enforcement, local authorities, the Health Ministry, the Pasteur Institute in Cambodia, FAO, WHO, and National Disaster Management Committee,” he said, “to educate farmers and also families who raise poultry in small numbers and use them for household consumption and who would be able to hide the animals easily.”

Bird flu can be deadly to humans. It has killed seven Cambodians since 2005. Thousands of ducks and chickens died from the disease in Takeo last week.

“We organized to assess the potential risks of pandemic influenza virus at the human-animal interface,” said Kao Phal, as a guest on “Hello VOA.” “We ordered a temporary suspension of the purchase and sale of poultry poultries in the affected area. These bird flu outbreaks always occur during this period of time, around Chinese and Vietnamese New Year celebrations. This is because there is an increased traffic in poultry.”

In case of emergency, health officials can be reached at 012-833-795 and 012-214-970, he said. Other emergency numbers include: 115; 012-488-981; and 089-669-567.

Ly Sovann, another guest of “Hello VOA,” said Monday it was still difficult for humans to catch bird flu.

Investigators have begun screening people in infected areas, he said, but no one so far had been found with the illness.

Symptoms include high fever, cough, sore throat and fatigue.

“It rarely infects people,” he said, “but when it does, it is deadly.”