PHNOM PENH - Two more Cambodian children have succumbed to bird flu, the fourth and fifth cases of the deadly disease to be found in Cambodia in the first month of the year, health officials reported Tuesday.
The two were a 17-year-old girl from Kampong Speu province and a 9-year-old girl from Kampot province. Both died in Phnom Penh hospitals after falling ill in their home provinces and first seeking local treatment.
In all, 23 people have died from the disease since it first appeared in Cambodia in 2003. Three people have survived contracting the disease.
But health experts say the number of deaths already this year is a concern.
“This year it is very strong, because we’ve found two cases already happening in just one week, and on the same day,” said Ly Sovan, deputy director of the communicable disease department at the Ministry of Health. He urged Cambodians not to eat poultry that has already died, potentially from the disease, which is spread through wild fowl into local bird populations.
In the case of the 17-year-old, there was “evidence of recent deaths among poultry in the village, and the girl had history of coming into contact with poultry prior to becoming sick,” the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization said in a statement.
Health Minister Mam Bunheng said in the statement the threat of bird flu remains in Cambodia.