PHNOM PENH, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia on Thursday appealed to its citizens to be extra vigilant over the outbreak of Avian Influenza H5N1 virus after the virus has killed 7 people so far this year.
Speaking at an event at the Royal University of Agriculture, Minister of Agriculture Chan Sarun said the noticeable signs of bird flu included fever with temperature higher than 38 degrees Celsius, difficulty in breathing, and before having fever, the patient must have touched or eaten poultry.
"Patients with such symptoms, they should be sent to hospital at the soonest," he said. "For farmers, if they see their poultry getting sick or dead, they must report to local authorities, and don't eat the dead poultry."
Minister of Health Mam Bunheng said in a statement on Thursday that H5N1 remains a serious threat to the health of Cambodians, especially children.
"Children are at high risk because they may play where poultry are found and I urge parents and guardians to keep children away from sick or dead poultry and prevent them from playing with chickens and ducks," he said.
Parents and guardians must also make sure that their children have washed hands with soap and water after any contact with poultry, he added.
"If they have fast or difficult breathing, they should seek medical attention at the nearest health facility," he said.
The minister said 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. Such practice must be stopped," he said.
The appeal was made after the country's health ministry and the World Health Organization jointly announced on Thursday that another 20-month-old boy died of the virus on Tuesday, bringing the death toll to seven and the number of cases to eight in 2013.
Public education campaigns have been conducted in villages where the virus occurred in order to inform families on how to protect themselves from contracting avian influenza.
The country sees the worst outbreak of the virus this year since the disease was first identified in 2004. To date, the country has recorded 29 human cases of the virus, killing 26 people.