UPDATED: Phnom Penh — A 29-year-old man died from Cambodia bird flu cases in 2013, and a child is critically ill with the virus after handling sick and dead poultry from a market, said health officials on Thursday.
The man died in early November in Pailin province near the border with Thailand after being admitted to the hospital with a fever, announced the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health in Cambodia in a joint statement.
In a separate case, a three-year-old boy is seriously ill after carrying poultry from a market in Kampong Speu province.
“Investigations reveal the chickens and ducks had been sick and/or dead for approximately three weeks prior to the boy’s onset of illness (on November 5),” said the statement.
Cambodia is battling its deadliest outbreak of the virus since 2003, with 26 cases of the H5N1 flu reported this year.
Health Minister Mam Bunheng called the virus a “serious threat” and urged parents to keep children away from sick or dead poultry, said reports.
Cambodia bird flu “Children often care for domestic poultry… (and) may also have closer contact as they often treat them as pets… and play where poultry are found,” he said.
Anyone with symptoms should seek immediate medical care, he added.
People are being advised to wash their hands with soap after coming into contact with poultry, and not to eat sick birds or carrion.
The virus has killed hundreds of people worldwide since a major outbreak in 2003, according to WHO statistics.
Bird flu cases, virus usually spreads from birds to humans through direct contact.
But experts fear the virus could mutate into a form more easily transmissible between humans, which could trigger a pandemic bird flu cases.