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Seventh person dies from bird flu in Cambodia since start of 2013

Young boy dies from H5N1 avian influenza, the 26th person to die from the illness since record-keeping began, and the 7th to die since the start of the year.

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This photo taken on July 5, 2012 shows a Cambodian doctor (L) checking a child (C) at Kantha Bopha children's hospital in Phnom Penh. (KHEM SOVANNARA/AFP/Getty Images)

SIEM REAP - A 20-month-old boy from Kampot Province has died from avian influenza H5N1 in Cambodia, the 7th fatality from the poultry-spread disease to be recorded since 2013 began.

The World Health Organization said in a press release that the child was the 8th person in 2013 to be diagnosed with H5N1, and was the 26th person to die since record-keeping in Cambodia began.

Read more from GlobalPost: Avian flu causes concern in Cambodia as 6th victim dies

A young girl died on Feb 13th in Cambodia from H5N1, the 6th to die from the acute respiratory illness, which usually kills by way of secondary infections such as pneumonia.

Sixty-five percent of the victims of H5N1 in Cambodia thus far have been women, while 68 percent have been children under the age of 14.

Women and children are both thought to be more likely to come into contact with infected poultry than men are, either through cooking or through outdoors play.

No one knows for certain why Cambodia has experienced an uptick in H5N1 cases in 2013, but an increasingly mobile population, the Chinese New Year feasting season, and a lack of government compensation for culled chickens are all thought to be part of the problem, said WHO spokesman Sonny Krishnan to GlobalPost earlier in the month.

"The greatest risk of exposure to the virus is through the handling and slaughter of infected poultry. Home slaughtering and preparation of sick or dead poultry for food is hazardous: this practice must be stopped”, said Mam Bunheng, Cambodian Minister of Health, in the Feb 21st release.

The Cambodian government and the WHO are conducting a public health campaign about H5N1 in Cambodian villages, while a Health Ministry Rapid Response team has been deployed to the hospital where the boy died as well as the surrounding area, the release added.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/cambodia/130221/seventh-person-dies-bird-flu-cambodia-start-2013