Bird Flu Outbreak: 11-Year-Old Girl Dies Due To H5N1 Avian Influenza in Cambodia; WHO Calls Situation ‘Worrying’ | World News

New Delhi: An 11-year-old girl in Cambodia has died from bird flu in the country’s first known human H5N1 infection since 2014, health officials said this week. The girl from the rural southeastern province of Prey Veng fell ill on February 16 and was sent to be treated at a hospital in the capital, Phnom Penh. She was diagnosed on February 22 after suffering a fever up to 39 Celsius (102 Fahrenheit) with coughing and throat pain and died shortly afterward, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

Health officials have taken samples from a dead wild bird at a conservation area near the girl’s home, the ministry said in another statement on Thursday. 

It said teams in the area would also warn residents about touching dead and sick birds.

Bird Flu Situation ‘Worrying’: WHO 

Due to the recent rise in bird flu cases in birds and mammals, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the situation is “worrying”. The global health body also said it is working with Cambodian authorities after two confirmed human cases of H5N1 bird flu were found among one family in the country.

Dr Sylvie Briand, the director of epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevention, told reporters in a virtual briefing that WHO was reviewing its global risk assessment in light of the recent developments.

The UN health agency last assessed the risk to humans from avian flu as low earlier this month.

“The global H5N1 situation is worrying given the wide spread of the virus in birds around the world and the increasing reports of cases in mammals including humans,” Briand said. 

“WHO takes the risk from this virus seriously and urges heightened vigilance from all countries,” Briand added.

The WHO official said it was not yet clear whether there had been any human-to-human transmission, which was a key reason to focus on the cases in Cambodia, or if the two cases were due to the “same environmental conditions,” likely close contact with infected birds or other animals.

Bird Flu Outbreak: New Strain Of H5N1 Emerged In 2020

A new strain of H5N1, clade, emerged in 2020 and has been causing record numbers of deaths among wild birds and domestic poultry in recent months.

It has also infected mammals and has raised global concerns after it was spread to many parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe as well as North and South America.

However, unlike earlier outbreaks of H5N1, which has been around for more than two decades, this subtype is not causing significant illness in people.

Globally, about 870 human infections and 457 deaths have been reported to the WHO in 21 countries. But the pace has slowed, and there have been about 170 infections and 50 deaths in the last seven years.

According to a report, at least 60 countries have killed poultry in response to bird flu outbreaks since October 2021. Among the countries affected are India, Taiwan, Nepal, Peru, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Niger.


Bird Flu, Also Known As Avian Influenza, Normally Spreads In Poultry

Bird flu, which is also known as avian influenza, normally spreads in poultry and wasn’t deemed a threat to people until a 1997 outbreak among visitors to live poultry markets in Hong Kong.

Most human cases worldwide have involved direct contact with infected poultry, but concerns have arisen recently about infections in a variety of mammals and the possibility the virus could evolve to spread more easily between people.

Symptoms Of Bird Flu 

Symptoms of the H5N1 infection are similar to that of other cases of flu, including cough, aches, and fever, and in serious cases, patients can develop life-threatening pneumonia.

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