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Interview With Minister of Health on Bird Flu in Cambodia

Cambodian Minister of Health Nuth Sokhom says Cambodian people should be alert about bird flu after two recent deaths caused by the deadly H5N1 virus.

Officials from Cambodia's Health Ministry and the World Health Organization say a 12 year-old boy from Prey Veng province died in Calmette hospital in Phnom Penh on Tuesday.

Tests by a Cambodian laboratory showed the child was infected with the deadly H5N1 variant of bird-flu virus. If the findings are verified by a W.H.O. laboratory, this would be the second bird-flu death in Cambodia this year, and the sixth since 2003.

A three-year-old girl from Kompong Speu province died of the disease last month.

Bird flu has killed more than 100 people worldwide since 2003.

Deaths from bird flu occur in Kampot, Kampong Speu and Prey Veng provinces. Recently Prime Minister Hun Sen has talked about the danger of bird flu and has urged the people to stay informed.

Mr. Nuth says that the Cambodian people should pay special attention to this serious problem. He also expresses thanks to the prime minister, the media, radio and televisions, and the Ministry of Health for prompt actions in dissiminating information to the people about the danger.

The local authorities and experts will go to the local areas with some volunteers to educate the people about this deadly disease. The local villagers might not hear or see anything about this disease and its danger.

Up to now, there are 6 bird flu related deaths in Cambodia. Mr. Nuth has met with donor community, with Asia Development Bank which has fund and will help should there be needs, and he has signed an agreement with the U.S.

Recently he has met with U.S. Ambassador Joseph Mussomeli and has asked him for help. Australia has also pledged some aid. There are projects and plans in Cambodia for the bird flu, which it submits to the donor community to stop bird flu spread in Cambodia.

Mr. Nuth Sokhom appeals to the Cambodian people to join in the government's efforts, and those of the experts and local authorities so that the campaign can succeed. He says if there is any doubt, any poultry deaths or sick birds cases, to please report them to the health authorities. He also appeals to the people to wash their hands, feet, with soap and water after contact with the birds.