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Bird Flu Claims Young Provincial Girl

A 13-year-old provincial girl died Thursday from avian influenza, World Health Organization and Cambodian health officials said in a statement.

Hers was the first official death from the disease in Cambodia this year and the seventh since 2005. Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported the girl's name as Nha Pany.

Her blood tested positive for the H5N1 virus at the Pasteur Institute in Phnom Penh, Ly Sovann, deputy director for the communicable disease office at the Ministry of Health, told VOA Friday.

Nha Pany fell ill Monday, with high fever, diarrhoea and respiratory difficulties and was transferred to Kantha Bopha hospital in Phnom Penh Thursday, where she died, Ly Sovann said.

The Ministry of Health and WHO had sent officials to Nha Pany's hometown, Ponhie Krek, Kampong Cham province, to investigate, Ly Sovann said, adding that the Ministry of Agriculture was working alongside health officials.

Officials encouraged Cambodians to remain aware of the disease and its symptoms and to report new cases to authorities immediately.

Bird flu has killed at least 170 people in Asia since 2003. The hardest hit has been Indonesia, but neighboring Vietnam and Laos have also seen cases.