A 21-year-old woman in Kampot province, Dong Tong district, Cambodia has been diagnosed with H5N1 bird flu, marking the latest case in the country. The patient began experiencing respiratory symptoms on November 19, 2023, and was subsequently admitted to the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital on November 23 for treatment. Investigations conducted by the Ministry of Health revealed that there were reports of deceased chickens in the patient’s residence and the surrounding village approximately one week prior to her falling ill.
In response to the detection of H5N1, emergency response teams from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, and Ministry of Environment have joined forces to contain the outbreak. Their collaborative efforts encompass identifying potential sources of transmission in animals and humans, conducting searches for suspected and affected cases, preventing further transmission within the community, distributing necessary medication, and implementing health education campaigns in affected villages.
This year alone, Cambodia has reported a total of five cases of H5N1 infection. The initial cases occurred in February, involving a fatal case in an 11-year-old girl from Prey Veng province and her asymptomatic father. In October, two additional H5N1 cases were reported, one of which resulted in a fatality. Genetic sequencing analysis unveiled that the H5N1 virus identified in Cambodia belongs to the 188.8.131.52c clade, which has been circulating in Southeast Asia since 2014.
As the situation unfolds in Cambodia, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring the developments. The CDC has reported sporadic human H5N1 infections from eight countries since January 2022, with the majority of cases having a history of exposure to sick or deceased poultry. The CDC emphasizes that H5N1 continues to circulate among wild birds, poultry, and certain mammals. While the overall risk to human health remains low, the CDC underscores the importance of vigilant surveillance to detect any potential changes in the virus that could enhance its capacity for human-to-human transmission.
While Cambodia grapples with the latest H5N1 case, global health authorities are closely observing the situation and emphasizing the necessity for international cooperation in addressing and mitigating the ongoing threat of avian influenza.