WHO Investigating Bird Flu Cases In Cambodia After Death Of 11-Year-Old Girl

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The World Health Organization (WHO) is investigating human cases of bird flu in Cambodia following the death of an 11-year-old girl, the first known human infection of H5N1 in the country in nine years, authorities say.

The unnamed girl died shortly after being diagnosed when she was transferred to a children’s hospital in the capital city of Phnom Penh, the BBC reported Monday. Authorities have been following the outbreak in birds since 2021, leading to the culling of 58.5 million birds from commercial and personal flocks in the United States alone, NBC News reported. (RELATED: The Government Is Set To Execute 1.5 Million Hens and Turkeys)

Since then, officials have recorded eight human cases of the disease in countries including China, India, Spain, the UK and US, according to the BBC. In these cases all of the patients had been in close contact with birds or poultry, NBC reported.

Following the death of the young girl in Cambodia, the first known human case of the disease since 2014, officials in the country tested 11 others, including the girl’s father who also tested positive, according to the BBC.

“The global H5N1 situation is worrying given the wide spread of the virus in birds around the world and the increasing reports of cases in mammals including humans,” Dr. Sylvie Briand, the director of epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevention at WHO said in a virtual briefing, according to Reuters.

Cases of bird flu in humans are typically rare, since the human body does not possess certain receptors that would make it easier to contract the virus, the BBC reported. Those who are in frequent contact with infected poultry, such as in a work environment, are more apt to become sick, according to the outlet.

“WHO takes the risk from this virus seriously and urges heightened vigilance from all countries,” Briand continued.

Briand told reporters it wasn’t clear whether the Cambodian infections were the result of human-t0-human transmission, which is why investigators are focusing their attention in that country, the outlet reported. Authorities hope to determine whether these cases were caused by the “same environmental conditions,” as the others or, in other words, the result of close contact with infected birds or different animals, according to Reuters.