Thinker's Chronicle

Rare Case of Bird Flu in Cambodia

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Photo Credit: CNET

A few days ago, an eleven-year girl from a rural village in Cambodia contracted the H5N1 Virus, better known as the bird flu, and passed away. This was a rare and highly concerning incident as Cambodia hasn’t had a single known human infection from this virus since 2014. Unfortunately, the girl’s father also tested positive, but he hasn’t shown severe symptoms. The girl’s diagnosis was uncovered when she was sent to a local hospital with a high fever, throat pain, and cough, but she died before any serious treatment could be given. 

How does it spread?

H5N1 influenza is a form of virus that typically infects wild birds, but it can spread to domesticated birds, such as poultry, and in extremely rare scenarios, it can even infect humans. It’s difficult for humans to contract the virus from birds, especially because humans don’t have receptors in the respiratory tract that are compatible with current strains, and it’s even more rare for human-to-human transmission to occur. However, if the disease is contracted, it can result in a multitude of side effects and complications that require immediate medical attention.

What does it look like?

Symptoms are mainly respiratory, such as a runny nose, cough, sore throat, etc, but there can also be a high fever, vomiting, respiratory distress, sepsis, and pneumonia. Additionally, past outbreaks have indicated a high mortality rate of 60% for humans. 

Recent outbreaks across the world

The bird flu encounter in Cambodia is especially alarming because it amplifies the Avian flu outbreak that has been spreading since 2021. It wasn’t clear how the girl’s father contracted the virus, but officials are closely communicating with the Cambodian government to get more detailed information about the outbreak. 

Authorities around the world are expressing concern about the rise in cases over the past couple years. It was recently discovered at a mink farm in Spain that the virus might be able to infect a wider range of animals, and potentially spread more easily to humans and trigger a pandemic. Since 2022, the United States alone has reported over 49 million bird flu cases. There have been 8 human cases since 2021, but over 860 infections since 2003. 


The spectrum of illness symptoms is still largely unknown, and there still beads to be more investigation on the contraction and transmission of this virus to gain a better understanding of how to manage it. If this virus begins to mutate and rapidly spread, there would need to be extra precautions and measures to prevent triggering a pandemic.

It is generally advised to not touch birds or poultry, especially if it’s suspected to be unclean, dead, or infected. It’s also advised to thoroughly cook any meat, poultry products, and eggs. Currently, the outbreak is observed mainly as a health issue for animals, but officials worldwide plan to closely monitor and track this virus. 

Harshi Pulagam
Harshi Pulagam