Bird flu coming round again - three cases in Cambodia cause for concern

The latest outbreak of bird flu in Cambodia which has seen the hospitalisation of three more suspected cases is causing concern.

The cases follow the death of a three year old child from the deadly virus in a neighboring village in Kompong Speu province, about 45 kilometers west of the capital.

Officials think the toddler became infected after playing with sick chickens.

The two adults and a child are being treated for fever and respiratory problems at a hospital in the capital Phnom Penh.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is reportedly very concerned as the death is the first this year in Cambodia and the fifth since 2003.

Cambodia's department of infectious diseases says five others who had contact with the three suspected cases are also being treated; it is not known how the infection was contracted.

Tests on poultry in the area have found no trace of H5N1 despite the deaths of hundreds in the area earlier this month.

The WHO is particularly concerned as if the three people are found to have bird flu it would signify an exposure to birds that health authorities are unaware of.

Other villagers thought to have caught bird flu after the girl died have tested negative for the virus.

Cambodia's last outbreak of bird flu in humans occurred in early 2005, but the virus has been found in ducks in eastern Kompong Cham province twice since February, and has prompted the slaughter of hundreds of birds.

The Chinese Ministry of Health has confirmed that a 29-year-old woman in Shanghai died from bird flu, and Indonesian authorities are waiting for confirmation that the death of a one year old girl in Jakarta was from the virus.

If tests confirm the girl died from bird flu it would take Indonesia's human deaths from bird flu to 23.

This first case in Shanghai brings China's death toll from bird flu to 11 according to the World Health Organization.

The death of the migrant worker from the virus was confirmed by China's national Center for Disease Control, but as yet it is unclear how she contracted the virus.

There have been no reported bird flu outbreaks in poultry in Shanghai since 2004.

Health officials say those who had close contact with the woman are under observation but none as yet have shown symptoms of the disease.

According to the WHO the virus has to date killed more than 100 people in eight countries, mostly in Asia.

According to government sources in Hong Kong a dead peregrine falcon found in a housing complex has tested positive for the H5N1 strain.

The falcon was found near the border with mainland China; Hong Kong has not reported a human case of bird flu since 2003.

Since last October over 6,000 dead birds have been tested for bird flu in Hong Kong and of those, two chickens and 14 wild birds were confirmed to have the H5N1 virus.

China itself has reported 16 human cases along with many outbreaks in chickens, ducks and other poultry in areas throughout the country and millions of farm birds have been culled in an attempt to contain the disease.

The majority of China's human infections have been traced to contact with sick or dead birds.

Experts believe the virus is being spread by millions of migratory birds that cross China.

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