UPDATED (see text)
UPDATED see WHO/Cambodian MOH Statement On H5N1 Cases
We’ve seen very few reports of human infection with the H5N1 virus over the past few months, but this morning it is widely being reported that three people in Cambodia have been infected, two of them fatally.
The report, originating with AFP, has appeared this morning in outlets such as the Hong Kong Standard, Channel News Asia, Medical Xpress, and the Malay Mail.
Posted: 25 January 2013 1857 hrs
PHNOM PENH: Two Cambodians have died from bird flu contracted while preparing infected chicken, the World Health Organization said Friday.
Tests on the victims, a 15-year-old girl and a 35-year-old man who died earlier this week, confirmed they had contracted the H5N1 strain of avian influenza, the WHO said in a joint statement with the Cambodian health ministry.
An eight-month-old boy admitted to hospital in Phnom Penh on January 9 was also infected with H5N1 but later recovered, the statement said.
The story goes on to say that chickens infected with H5N1 had been detected in the village where the two fatal cases live, and the pair had "prepared sick chicken for food prior to becoming sick’.
What isn’t stated in this article is the location for these cases, and whether the surviving infant and the two adult fatalities are epidemiologically linked in any way.
The route of infection for the infant is not stated.
The victims were a 15-year-old girl from Smao village, in the Prey Kabass district of Takeo province, and a 35-year-old man from Trapeang Sla village, in Kampong Speu province’s Kong Pisey district, the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation said today.
After seeing only 4 cases of H5N1 infection in humans between 2007 and 2010, Cambodia suddenly become the focus of renewed attention after 8 fatal cases were reported during 2011, followed by 3 fatal cases in 2012.
When confirmed, these three new cases will bring Cambodia’s total to 24 known cases, of which 21 have died (87.5%).
While we continue to see isolated human infections around the world, and the virus continues to evolve (see H5N1: An Increasingly Complex Family Tree), for now H5N1 is primarily a threat to poultry.
The concern, of course, is that over time that could change.