Cambodia: Girl dies of bird flu - first death since 2014

According to official information, a girl has died of bird flu in Cambodia.

Cambodia: Girl dies of bird flu - first death since 2014

According to official information, a girl has died of bird flu in Cambodia. It is the first death related to the disease in the Southeast Asian country since 2014, said the Ministry of the Environment in the capital Phnom Penh. The eleven-year-old showed the first symptoms such as a cough and sore throat on February 16, the newspaper "Khmer Times" reported on Friday. When her condition worsened, she was taken to the National Children's Hospital in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. She died there on Wednesday. Tests had shown that she was infected with the H5N1 bird flu virus.

The largest outbreak of avian influenza ever documented is currently raging across several continents. Avian influenza, also known as bird flu, is an infectious disease that mainly affects waterfowl and other birds. Experts fear that the virus is adapting more and more to mammals and could therefore also become more dangerous to humans.

The Friedrich Löffler Institute (FLI) said on Friday that the World Health Organization (WHO) had previously recorded one death in China in 2022 for the current epidemic. In this case, and also in Cambodia, it is not entirely clear whether the H5N1 variant, which is currently dominant in Europe and America, was the cause.

The Ministry of Environment in Phnom Penh also said that a particularly large number of dead wild animals had been found near the place where the girl lived. Samples were taken from the animals, which are currently being examined in a laboratory. In the meantime, the virus had also been detected in the victim's father, it said.

In recent months, H5N1 infections have also been repeatedly detected in mammals such as sea lions, raccoons, foxes, bears and martens. So far, there have only been very few cases of human infection. An outbreak on a mink farm in Spain worries experts, however, because the pathogen may not have been transmitted from bird to mammal, but from mammal to mammal. That would be an indication that the pathogen is adapting to mammals and could therefore become more dangerous to humans.

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In Argentina, however, the sale of live birds has been banned. Trade fairs, agricultural shows and events with many birds are also prohibited in the South American country until further notice, according to a decree published in the Official Journal on Thursday. So far, eleven cases of avian influenza have been recorded in wild animals and domestic animals in Argentina. Authorities fear the disease could spread to commercial animal husbandry and cause major economic damage. Around 740 million chickens are slaughtered in the country every year.

In the past, bird flu waves have also resulted in numerous human deaths, especially in Southeast Asia and Egypt. However, this was a different virus line than the currently dominant one. According to the authorities, 37 people died from bird flu in Cambodia between 2005 and 2014. Symptoms include cough, fever, sore throat and shortness of breath.