VIETNAM – An 18-year-old duck farmer from the southern Mekong delta became the first person to die of H5N1 avian influenza in Vietnam in almost two years, according to the Associated Press. Meanwhile, a two-year-old boy died also from the disease in nearby Cambodia earlier this year. Health officials linked the deaths to the victims coming in contact with infected birds, not human-to-human contact.
The duck farmer died after suffering from a high fever and respiratory problems, Vietnamese officials said. It remains unknown if he was infected by animals in his own flock.
The Cambodian toddler also died of the avian influenza on Wednesday after being exposed to sick or dead poultry, Cambodian officials relayed. In most cases, this deadly virus only infects humans who made direct contact with infected birds.
The H5N1 strain of avian influenza has been responsible for killing at least 340 people worldwide since it was first detected in 2003. The virus had spread to 63 nations at the peak of the outbreak in 2006. Since then, it was eradicated in most of affected countries thanks to mass culling projects of domestic poultry.
In Cambodia, the virus has killed 17 people and approximately 60 in Vietnam. China, India, Indonesia and Egypt have also recently reported human bird-flu cases.