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Ministry cautions against bird flu during Water Festival

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
A woman stops to buy chicken in Phnom Penh. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The Health Ministry yesterday warned people to be wary about the transmission of respiratory diseases, especially bird flu from poultry to humans, as the Water Festival approaches.

Ly Sovann, director of the ministry’s communicable disease control department, said yesterday that bird flu has occurred in neighbouring countries, and there were also cases in some areas in Cambodia in the past.

He stressed that the ministry is particularly concerned over the possible spread of bird flu from poultry to humans during the Water Festival next month.

“For the Water Festival, many birds will be transported for food,” Mr Sovann said. “It is possible that some of the poultry being transported are infected by bird flu and this could spread the disease to other birds and humans.”

He cautioned those who attend the Water Festival in Phnom Penh and provinces not to buy sick birds for their meals and to also make sure food is cooked properly and in a hygienic way.

Mr Sovann advised people who have respiratory disease symptoms, including coughing and sneezing, to wear masks and wash their hands with soap and water or alcohol.

He noted that from 2005 to 2014, there were 56 cases of poultry to human transmission of bird flu in Cambodia, with 37 deaths.

Mr Sovann said bird flu symptoms include fever of over 38.5 degrees Celsius, cough, sore throat or breathing difficulty and noted that those who come into contact with sick or dead bird should seek treatment within seven days before the symptoms manifest.

Chum Sophorn, a resident of Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district, said he has read the bird flu caution on the ministry’s Facebook page and will follow its advice and also warn his family to be careful.

However, he also requested the department disseminate the information to a wider audience so that more people will be careful.

From late 2017 to August this year, there were cases of bird flu among chickens in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district, Kampong Cham and Kampong Thom provinces.

However, there was no human infection because the Health and Agriculture ministries and relevant institutions took timely preventive measures.

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