Two Cambodian children hospitalized with H5N1

Wednesday, August 14, 2013
By Paul Martin

Lisa Schnirring
Aug 13, 2013

Cambodia’s health ministry today announced two more H5N1 avian flu cases, both in children, the hardest-hit group in that country so far.

The patients are a 9-year-old boy from Battambang province and a 5-year-old girl from Kandal province, according to a joint statement today from Cambodia’s health ministry and the World Health Organization (WHO). The two new infections boost the country’s H5N1 total to 16 so far this year, of which 9 were fatal.

Battambang province is in northwestern Cambodia, while Kandal province is in the southern part of the country. Both cases were confirmed by the Pasteur Institute in Cambodia.

The boy first got sick with fever and vomiting on Jul 26 and was initially treated at home by health center staff, according to the statement. On Aug 2 after his condition worsened, his parents took him to a private clinic in the city of Battambang that referred him to a provincial hospital.

On Aug 4 he was transferred to a hospital in Siem Reap, where he was treated with oseltamivir (Tamiflu) on Aug 9. He is in stable condition.

An investigation into the source of his illness revealed that there were poultry deaths in the boy’s village and that he had carried sick birds from a cage for his sister to cook before he became ill.

The girl from Kandal province got sick with a fever on Aug 1, prompting her parents to seek treatment at a local health center. The following day the girl was taken to a private clinic, but her condition worsened and on Aug 9 she was transferred to Kantha Bopha hospital, where oseltamivir treatment began the following day. She is in critical condition.

Health authorities learned that there were recent poultry deaths in the girl’s village.

Dr Mam Bunheng, the country’s health minister, said in the statement that H5N1 is a serious threat to Cambodia and that children are vulnerable, because they often take care of backyard poultry, treat them as pets, and play in areas where poultry are found. He urged parents to keep children away from sick or dead birds and to prevent them from playing with poultry.

Teams from Cambodia’s health ministry are in the children’s villages to identify and monitor close contacts and to look for any links between any of Cambodia’s 16 cases this year.

The new H5N1 cases raise the global total to 636 infections, including 377 deaths, the WHO said.

Since 2005, Cambodia has had 37 H5N1 cases, 28 of which were fatal. Of the confirmed case-patients, 26 were younger than 14 years old, the WHO noted.

Asymptomatic H5N1 detected in Vietnam

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