The three-year-old girl from Kampot province confirmed to have the year’s seventh case of bird flu in Cambodia died at Kantha Bopha hospital yesterday morning.
The girl had come in contact with poultry in her home village of Chrey Korng, where several chickens recently had died, before developing a fever and rash on February 3 and being admitted to Kantha Bopha after her condition worsened to include stomach pain and drowsiness, the World Health Organization (WHO) and Ministry of Health said yesterday.
“This is the highest we’ve seen in terms of monthly cases,” said Sonny Krishnan, communications officer for the WHO in Cambodia, noting that six had died from the virus in the past three weeks.
Treatment by tamiflu within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms ought to prevent bird-flu-related deaths, but Cambodia sees a high rate of fatalities because “most arrive in public health facilities already in an advanced stage of the disease”, said Krishnan.
Since H5N1 emerged a decade ago, Cambodia has seen 28 of the world’s 619 cases, and 25 deaths from the virus.
Most victims have been young girls.The 6 deaths out of 7 cases mean a case fatality rate of 85 per cent in this year's cases. The case fatality rate in Cambodia overall, with 25 deaths out of 28 cases, is 89 per cent. This is even higher than Indonesia's. But the disease is so rare that parents are reasonable to seek local help instead of going to the country's major pediatric hospital. If every kid with a bad cold or a stomach ache were brought to Kantha Bopha, the hospital would likely be swamped.