Bird Flu Infects Another Person as Wider Worry Grows

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The father of an 11-year-old girl who died from avian influenza in Cambodia this week has been diagnosed with the virus, officials said, stoking concerns about the possibility of another animal-borne virus affecting humans.

Eleven more people who had been in close contact with the girl have undergone lab testing for H5N1, said Or Vandine, who is Cambodia’s Secretary of State as well as spokesperson for the Ministry of Health. The girl’s 49-year-old father is the only one who tested positive. An investigation is ongoing, she said.

There hasn’t been any indication that the virus is spreading from person-to-person, officials said. The patient who died was exposed to sick birds before she became infected. Four of her close contacts had begun exhibiting signs of illness, according to reports in media outlets including the Khmer Times and the Voice of Vietnam.

The World Health Organization is collaborating with animal health authorities. Other investigating agencies include the Ministry of Health and provincial leaders.

The number of cases in wild and domesticated birds worldwide has skyrocketed to record levels. While there hasn’t been any recent signs of human-to-human transmission, infections in birds can be passed to humans via direct contact.

A handful of human cases have been detected each year since 2015, when 145 people were infected globally.