Cambodia confirms bird flu

Agriculture ministry orders a three-month ban on poultry transportation after a young man was confirmed with H5N1 bird flu.

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PHNOM PENH // Cambodia began culling poultry near its capital today, officials said, five days after a young man from the area was confirmed with H5N1 bird flu by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the government. Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun said he had ordered a three-month ban on poultry transportation from the province of Kandal, 50km south of Phnom Penh, after tests confirmed it was hit by the deadly virus.

The Health Ministry said in a statement last week the 19-year-old man, the eighth person in Cambodia to have contracted bird flu since its first case in 2005, was in stable condition in the capital's Calmette hospital. The patient fell ill on Nov 28 but was only confirmed as having bird flu on Dec 11, a Health Ministry-WHO statement said. All seven of Cambodia's previous human cases have died. Chan Sarun said ministry officials were also investigating in the province of Kampong Speu, 60km west of Kandal, after reports of dead chickens and ducks.

Since H5N1 resurfaced in Asia in 2003 it has killed more than 200 people in a dozen countries. Experts fear the constantly mutating H5N1 virus could change into a form easily transmitted from person to person and potentially kill millions worldwide. * Reuters