Cambodia reports sixth bird flu death this year

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PHNOM PENH – A three-year-old Cambodian girl has died from bird flu, bringing the country’s toll from the deadly virus to six so far this year, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

The girl, from the southern province of Kampot, died in a children’s hospital in the capital Phnom Penh, the WHO said in a joint statement with the Cambodian health ministry.

Tests confirmed she had contracted the H5N1 strain of avian influenza and “the girl had a history of coming into contact with poultry (in her village) prior to becoming sick”, it added.

Cambodian Health Minister Mam Bunheng said in the statement that “H5N1 remains a serious threat to the health of Cambodians, especially children”.

The country has recorded 28 cases of H5N1 since 2003, with all but three of them proving fatal.

Four Cambodians, including a 17-month-old girl, died from the strain last month and a five-year-old girl died last week.

The virus has killed more than 365 people worldwide since a major outbreak in 2003, according to WHO statistics.

It typically spreads from birds to humans through direct contact. But experts fear it could mutate into a form easily transmissible between humans, with the potential to trigger a pandemic.

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