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Human Transmission of Bird Flu in Kampot Cambodia?

Recombinomics Commentary
January 29, 2005

>> Meanwhile, a 25-year-old Cambodian woman with a high fever and cough was admitted Friday to a hospital in Kien Giang province, which borders Cambodia, a doctor there said on condition of anonymity. She was in critical condition Saturday and breathing on a respirator, he said.

The woman's relatives said there was dead poultry in her village in Cambodia's Kampot province about a month ago, he said. If the virus is confirmed, it would be the first known human case outside Vietnam since the latest outbreak began in December. Eleven people have died in Vietnam in the outbreak.

Ly Sovann, director of the Center for Disease Control at Cambodia's Health Ministry, said his office was unaware of the case. <<

The suspect bird flu case (25F) from Cambodia raises questions concerning the spread of H5N1 in poultry and people.  Last season reported human cases were limited to Vietnam and Thailand, although the geographical location of Laos and Cambodia raised questions about possible cases in those two countries.

The dead poultry in Kampot a month ago coincides with the outbreak of H5N1 in poultry and people in Vietnam's Mekong Delta.  However, since symptoms usually appear within 2-10 days of exposure, it seems unlikely that the dead poultry of a month ago led to a direct infection of the patient, raising concerns of additional human to human transmission.

The critical condition of the young patient is similar to other patients in the area who subsequently tested positive for H5N1 avian influenza.  The patient would be the first reported case outside of Vietnam and Thailand to test positive during the extended outbreak which began last season.

Human to human transmission in Cambodia would be more difficult to monitor, since surveillance systems are not as advanced as Vietnam and Thailand.

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