While the ministries of health and agriculture are taking measures to stem the spread of avian influenza—which claimed its fifth victim in just three weeks on Thursday—a lack of compensation for poultry owners affected by culling is limiting their effectiveness, officials said on Sunday.
Last week, a 5-year-old girl became the second person to succumb to the H5N1 virus in Takeo province’s Prey Kabbas district, where authorities are trying to detect the disease in poultry before it passes to more humans in the area.
Sonny Krishnan, World Health Organization (WHO) spokesman in Cambodia, said the Health Ministry’s rapid response team had performed blood tests for the virus on people close to the girl, which all came back negative, and that the Agriculture Ministry’s animal health department was controlling the movement of poultry in the area.
However, Mr. Krishnan said it was a concern that in yet another instance, an outbreak of H5N1—also known as bird flu—was only detected when a human contracted the virus, not when birds in the area started dying.
“Surveillance is supposed to be from poultry deaths, but it’s always a human death. Then when you go to investigate, you find that ducks or chickens have been dying. It’s the reverse of how it should be,” he said.
This lack of detection was partly due to a lack of resources at the Agriculture Ministry, but also to farmers’ fears of their livestock being culled.
“There’s no compensation policy. That is a disincentive for them to report poultry deaths. If they report a death, it can mean that the whole flock could be culled,” he said.The report later quotes an anonymous government official "who said the government was too poor to compensate farmers." If that's the case, the government is too poor to stay in office.