FAO Urges Bird Flu Vigilance in Cambodia

CAMBODIA - FAO and Cambodia's Ministry of Agriculture have warned people to be on the alert in case of a recurrence of avian flu.
calendar icon 18 June 2008
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It is important for Cambodia to remain vigilant for possible recurrence of avian influenza (AI), reports an official source in China. The reason for this latest warning is that Cambodia shares borders with Viet Nam and Thailand where outbreaks of the pathogenic virus continued to occur, according to a reported statement.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in their joint statement said that they have been organizing public awareness and education activities to warn Cambodians of the danger avian influenza poses to their poultry and to their health.

Village meetings in Svay Rieng, Takeo, Kampong Cham and Kampot provinces, all bordering Vietnam, have been conducted since April, drawing 4,000 people from 25 villages, it added.

"The ministry and FAO have been working together to provide technical and communication skills training to veterinary officials, village animal health workers and village chiefs, so they will be able to educate the public on actions they can take to prevent avian flu infection," said Kao Phal, Director of the Department of Animal Health and Production at the ministry.

Although Cambodia hasn't had any outbreak since April 2007, it does not mean that the risk of AI is not present anymore, said the statement.

"FAO, with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Germany, will continue to strengthen the government's laboratory capacity to detect bird flu, improve biosecurity in the backyard farms and in the markets, as well as in disease surveillance and early response to minimize the risks of avian flu," said Etienne Careme, FAO Emergency Program Coordinator.

In addition, both sides will organize a community forum on avian influenza in Pouk District, Siem Reap province, on June 19.

While not located along the border with Vietnam and Thailand, Siem Reap is among the provinces with the largest poultry population and represents an important trade center for poultry, majority of which is sourced from its villages, said the statement.

Siem Reap experienced an AI outbreak in poultry in two villages in February 2004.

In Cambodia, bird flu has killed seven people, including a 12-year-old girl in Kampong Cham province, the latest case of its kind.

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