Provincial leaders have begun calling on people to take extra precautions to protect their health from the bird flu H5N1 virus and prevent it from spreading to other communities. Several measures have been put in place.

The warnings followed two confirmed cases in Prey Veng province in February – an 11-year-old girl who passed away on February 22 and her father was also diagnosed with the virus but has since made a full recovery.

According to the Communicable Disease Control Department (CDC), careful testing revealed that the pair were infected by birds in their village, and there is no suspicion of human-to-human transfer.

The Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration has followed the advice of the Ministry of Health, and issued guidelines to the public.

“The bird flu which infects humans is a serious disease that requires immediate treatment at hospitals or health centres. Therefore, early detection of infection and early prevention of transmission are of paramount importance in preventing the spread of the disease into the community,” it said.

Provincial authorities advised residents to avoid entering livestock farms, live bird markets or slaughterhouses that are unhygienic, or having direct contact with sick animals. If they experience flu-like symptoms, they should immediately seek treatment and make sure to wear a mask if coughing or sneezing.

People are also advised to wash their hands frequently with soap and water and adhere to strict food hygiene practices. People’s temperatures should also be checked regularly, and should not exceed 38.5 degrees Celsius. They should only eat correctly prepared food, especially poultry, eggs and seafood.

Any birds that fall ill should be separated from healthy animals. Should they die, their remains should be buried or burned a good distance from people’s homes.

Kampong Speu provincial governor Vei Samnang said his province had recorded no cases of bird flu, but had urged people to exercise caution.

Prey Veng provincial information department director Nhem Saokry said that as of March 3, there had been no further cases of bird flu in the province.

In late February, the World Health Organisation (WHO) provided 3,000 doses of Tamiflu (oseltamivir capsules) for the treatment and prevention of avian influenza – or bird flu – to the CDC.

The health ministry urged anyone who suspect they have contracted or been exposed to bird flu to isolate themselves immediately and seek treatment. They should contact the ministry’s emergency number 115.

Prior to the two February cases, it had been nine years since a case was recorded in the Kingdom.