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11-year-old girl dead, 12 tested amid bird flu outbreak

WHO has warned avian influenza must be monitored closely.

An 11-year-old Cambodian girl has died from bird flu, as the virus continues to spread across the world.

More than 200 million birds have died from disease and culling since 2021 across the United States, United Kingdom and Europe since the outbreak began, according to World Organisation for Animal Health.

The disease is yet to spread between humans, but there is evidence it has transferred between individuals of other mammal species. It's believed H5N1 is spreading between minks at a fur farm in Spain, and possibly among sea lions in Peru where over 700 have died.

A man in PPE hoses down the rural home where the 11-year-old Cambodian girl died.
The home of an 11-year-old Cambodian girl who died from H5N1 has been sprayed by authorities. Source: Reuters

12 people tested for H5N1 in Cambodia

The girl was from Prey Veng, east of the capital Phnom Penh, and is believed to have contracted the first infection of the H5N1 strain in Southeast Asia since 2014. She was diagnosed with the disease after coming down with a high fever and cough on February 16.

Health authorities have ordered staff to spray around her home to sanitise the area and burn garbage to stop the virus continuing to spread.

Cambodian health secretary Youk Sambathanother confirmed on Friday another 12 persons in Prey Veng were tested for H5N1.

Bird flu deaths at 40 to 50 per cent of infected

World World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on February 8 that the risk to humans remains low, but the situation "need to be monitored closely".

A man in PPE throws away large pallets of eggs.
In Israel (pictured), the United States and Europe, millions of hens have been killed and eggs destroyed. Source: Getty

On Thursday, University of NSW virologist Professor Bill Rawlinson told Yahoo News Australia if the H5N1 was to begin spreading between humans the situation could be “very serious” because human mortality from previous outbreaks has been between 40 to 50 per cent.

Earlier in February Professor Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases expert at Australian National University and Canberra Hospital, told Yahoo that unease about the spread of H5N1 is warranted, but it's not time to panic.

"I think we need to be concerned and monitor what's going on," he told Yahoo News Australia. "But I don't think we need to have a view that the world will end tomorrow because this is going to be worse than Covid-19."

with Reuters

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