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Cambodia Reports 2 More Human H5N1 Avian Flu Infections

By Lisa Schnirring

Over the past few days, Cambodia's health ministry has reported two human H5N1 avian flu cases, which involve patients from difference provinces who were exposed to sick poultry before their symptoms began.

The cases are the first of 2024 and raise the country's number of cases since early 2023 to eight.

Though officials haven't announced genetic sequencing results on the viruses that infected the two new patients, the rash of earlier cases was caused by clade, an older H5N1 strain that has circulated in the region for more than a decade. The clade is different from the clade that is currently circulating widely in wild birds and poultry, with sporadic detections in mammals and people.

Cambodia reported its last human H5N1 cases—one of them fatal—in October. Of the 6 cases reported from Cambodia in 2023, 4 patient died and 2 survived after mild illnesses, according to background information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Patients from different regions

The ministry announced the first case on January 26 in a statement, which was translated and posted by Avian Flu Diary (AFD), an infectious disease news blog. The patient is a 3-year-old boy from Prey Veng province in the country's southeast who is currently hospitalized in an intensive care unit (ICU).

Investigators found that, 10 days earlier, dead chickens were reported around the boy's home.

Yesterday, the ministry announced a second case, which involves a 69-year-old man from Siem Reap province in the northwest who is also hospitalized and was admitted to the ICU, according to another official statement translated and posted by AFD.

The ministry said the man raises 50 to 60 chickens at his home and that poultry deaths have been occurring over the past 2 weeks.

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