Fourth Cambodian dies of avian flu

April 22, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – A 20-year-old woman who died Tuesday in a Vietnamese hospital has been confirmed as Cambodia's fourth victim of H5N1 avian influenza, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported today.

Chal Bo Pha had suffered high fever and heavy coughing for a week before leaving her home in Kampot Province to go to a hospital across the border in Tien Giang, Vietnam, AFP reported. She died there within hours.

Tests at the Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City confirmed that the woman died of H5N1, the hospital director, Nguyen Van Dom, told AFP. Cambodian and World Health Organization (WHO) officials quoted in the story had not yet been notified that the case was confirmed.

The case brings the unofficial H5N1 case count to 90 cases, including 53 deaths, since January 2004.

It also indicates that Cambodia may continue to see cases, Dr. Peter Horby, WHO epidemiologist in Hanoi, told AFP.

"If the results are confirmed, it does demonstrate that in that part of Cambodia the situation is not so different from Vietnam for avian influenza and we'll continue to see human cases," Horby said.

The woman lived in an area where many poultry had died of an unknown illness, relatives reportedly told the doctor quoted by AFP. She had eaten chicken before falling ill.

Health officials in Cambodia are continuing education efforts, particularly in Kampot Province, where all four known H5N1 victims lived.

Megge Miller, a WHO official in Cambodia, told AFP that officials in two areas of Kampot are teaching health center staff and local health volunteers how to identify avian flu. She said workers are being instructed to notify the provincial health department if they see someone who has a fever, cough, and difficult breathing after having contact with poultry that recently died.

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