The World Health Organization said on Friday it is investigating two human cases of bird flu in Cambodia, after an 11-year-old girl died this week and her father also tested positive for the H5N1 strain.
A bird flu outbreak first observed in 2021 is spreading around the world, including in the United States, where nearly 58.5 million birds have been culled from commercial and backyard flocks since last February, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. SA.
The risk of bird flu to humans is still thought to be low, but the global spread of H5N1 into wild bird species and even mammals, such as bears, raccoons, mink, foxes and sea lions, has raised concerns that it could turn into their place. a version that goes easily between people.
The WHO has said that some avian influenza viruses “have the potential to mutate to increase transmissibility among humans.”
Cambodian health officials said Thursday that the girl’s case is Cambodia’s first human H5N1 infection in nine years, since 2014.
The victim’s father also tested positive for the virus but showed no symptoms, and 11 other close contacts were tested in Prey Veng province, east of Phnom Penh, according to Reuters. Those results have not yet been revealed, and it is not yet known whether the girl’s father was infected through person-to-person transmission, or through contact with infected birds or animals.
Cambodia’s health minister said the girl was diagnosed with bird flu on February 16 after showing a high fever and cough. She was later transferred to the National Children’s Hospital in Phnom Penh but died on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
The WHO has recorded several cases of H5N1 infections in humans since 2021, including a 9-year-old girl in rural Ecuador, a person in the United Kingdom who kept a “large number” of domestic birds, two poultry workers in Spain and one individual in the US involved in the slaughter of poultry on a farm.
In these cases, the patients were in close contact with birds or poultry and so far, “no sustained human-to-human transmission has been identified,” according to the WHO.
Dr. asked Sylvie Briand, director of epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevention at the WHO, that the situation was “worrying,” given the rapid spread of the virus among birds and the infections detected in mammals and humans.
“WHO takes the risk from this virus seriously and recommends increased vigilance from all countries,” Briand said Friday in a virtual information session.