(CTN News) – An 11-year-old girl from Cambodia has died from H5N1, the strain of bird flu that has spread worldwide and raised concerns about a possible threat to human health. An Ecuadorian girl tested positive last month.
As reported by Cambodia’s Ministry of Health, the young girl, who lives in Roleang village in Prey Veng province, fell ill last Thursday when she developed a cough and a fever of 39°C (102°F).
The girl became tired after receiving treatment at the local level and was sent to the National Children’s Hospital in Phnom Penh, according to the department. Her village buried her on Wednesday after she died on Wednesday.
The National Institute of Public Health tested a sample for H5N1 bird flu a few hours later.
A number of wild animals recently died, but it was unclear how or when the girl became infected. A team of emergency response personnel has been dispatched to the scene.
In countries where bird flu had never been found before, the current variant of H5N1 has caused outbreaks around the world since late 2021. The U.S. and Europe have culled more than 58 million birds since then.
Bird flu’s global spread has raised concerns about the possibility of human-to-human transmission in the future. These concerns have been raised by recent cases in mammals, including mink, foxes, and sea lions.
Earlier this month, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated: “H5N1 has spread widely in wild birds and poultry for 25 years, but the recent spillover to mammals needs to be closely monitored.”
In the meantime, WHO assesses the risk to humans as low. However, we must prepare for any change in the status quo.
It was noted that this concern was shared by the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH).
As a result of the current situation, H5N1 avian influenza may adapt better to mammals and become more likely to spread to humans and other animals. This is according to the agency stated on February 13. Various influenza viruses may be mixed together in some animals, such as mink.
In turn, this may lead to the emergence of new strains and subtypes that may be more harmful to humans and/or animals.
A 9-year-old girl in Ecuador tested positive for H5N1 bird flu in January, becoming the first case in South America. Her condition was critical when she was hospitalized, but she has since recovered. China lost another person to H5N1.
In Peru, nearly 600 sea lions and 55,000 birds, including pelicans and penguins, are believed to have died of H5N1 bird flu earlier this month. There were also two dolphins and a lion who died from bird flu.