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Cambodia hit by two new bird flu outbreaks

Bird flu outbreaks have been detected in two more districts in Cambodia's eastern province Kampong Cham. According to officials, around 3000 ducks have died in the last week.//

"We have discovered two more outbreaks of bird flu, but it has not infected the people yet," Kao Phal, the director of animal health at the agriculture ministry, told AFP on Friday.

"The result of tests on dead duck samples taken from the two districts has shown that the ducks died of H5N1 virus," Yim Venthan, secretary of state of the Ministry of Agriculture said. Kampong Cham Province is around 100 kms east of the capital Phnom Penh.

One of the outbreaks started when a farmer smuggled 2,000 ducks from the area, where bird flu was detected on Aug.12 and authorities were slaughtering birds to prevent the disease from spreading, Phal said.

Those ducks were brought into the Tbong Khmum district, 125 kilometers (80 miles) northeast of the capital. Most of them had died there by Friday, he said. The rest were slaughtered by the health officials. The official who was responsible for prevention of movement of the birds was dismissed.

Another outbreak was found in close by Batheay district. Here the ducks had begun to fall ill on Aug.12. According to Phal, 600 birds in that district had died or been killed.

"We are closely monitoring the situation," he said. "The transport of poultry has been banned in and out of the new outbreak area." The kingdom is on high alert after new cases were detected in Laos and Thailand last month.

The H5N1 virus spread among wild birds and poultry, which can then transfer to humans nearby, but human-to-human transmission is difficult in the present form of virus. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 140 people, mostly in Asia, have died because of the H5N1 virus infection, including 6 in Cambodia, since 2003.

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