This proved fatal like the previous six in 2005 (4) and 2006 (2). The victim was a 13-year-old girl from eastern Kampong Cham province, which borders Tay Ninh and Binh Phuoc provinces in Vietnam.

So far, there have been no official reports of any outbreaks in poultry. Observers in Cambodia say chickens had been dying in the village some time before the girl fell ill after she had prepared and eaten a ‘sick’ chicken. Local health and WHO officials are visiting the area to check for other human infections. Samples were tested at the Pasteur Institute in Phnom Penh.

This is the first recorded human case of H5N1 of avian origin in Cambodia since April 2006 and according to the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health), the last outbreak in Cambodian poultry was in on 24 August 2006, also in Kampong Cham.

It is feared that countries like Cambodia with weak veterinary infrastructures are failing to pick up H5N1 infections in poultry, the disease only hitting the headlines when well-entrenched and endemic infections in poultry become zoonotic and infect poultry owners.