Human Bird Flu Re-emerges in Cambodia: WHO Urges Vigilance

Cambodia has reported its first human case of bird flu since 2014, resulting in the death of an 11-year-old girl from the Prey Veng province.[0] Of the 12 people who have been tested, only the girl’s father has been found to be positive for the virus, raising fears that it may be spreading between humans.[1]

The global bird flu situation is “worrying” according to the World Health Organization (WHO), as the highly contagious new strain of the virus has been spreading around the world since October 2021.[2] The WHO has seen nearly 42 million individual cases in birds and is urging “heightened vigilance” from all countries.[3] The WHO has also assessed the risk to humans from H5N1 bird flu as low, although its director-general has said the recent spillover to mammals needs to be monitored closely.[4]

The girl is believed to have caught the virus from dead birds or animals near her home, as an “irregular number of dead wild animals” were found nearby.[1] Samples have been taken to a laboratory for testing and local residents have been urged not to touch any dead and sick birds in the surrounding area.[5]

Experts are worried that the sheer scale of the current spread could give the virus more opportunities to mutate, which could enable H5N1 to better spread in humans.[6] In preparation, the UK Health Security Agency produced Covid-style modelling to predict what might happen if the bug began transmitting from human-to-human.[7]

Human-to-human transmission of H5N1 is incredibly rare, with the last recorded cases in 1997 in Hong Kong where 18 cases were confirmed, some of which were acquired through human-to-human transmission.[6] This outbreak stayed relatively small, though, and did not spiral into a massive issue at either the local or global level.[8]

The WHO is urging caution and vigilance in monitoring the virus, as well as taking steps to ensure the safety of both people and animals.[7]

0. “UK experts begin preparation for ‘severe' bird flu outbreak in humans after girl, 11, dies” Express, 24 Feb. 2023,

1. “Bird flu in humans: Girl dies of H5N1 flu in Cambodia, father positive” Insider, 24 Feb. 2023,

2. “11-Year-Old Girl in Cambodia Dies of H5N1 Bird Flu” Gizmodo, 24 Feb. 2023,

3. “11-Year-Old Girl Dies From Bird Flu in Cambodia” The Daily Beast, 24 Feb. 2023,

4. “Cambodia reports death of 11-year-old girl from bird flu” The Jerusalem Post, 24 Feb. 2023,

5. “Girl, 11, dies of bird flu in Cambodia as medics warn we ‘must step up precautions’…” The Sun, 23 Feb. 2023,

6. “Bird flu kills school girl and infects father – 11 others under observation” The Telegraph, 24 Feb. 2023,

7. “‘Worst-case bird flu scenarios’ being probed by top Covid scientists after girl, 11, dies…” The US Sun, 24 Feb. 2023,

8. “Is this proof bird flu is now spreading in HUMANS? Father of infected girl ALSO has killer virus” Daily Mail, 24 Feb. 2023,

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