An 11-year-old Cambodian girl died from bird flu on Wednesday, the first known human infection in that country since 2014, officials said.

The girl was diagnosed after a week of coughing, a sore throat and a high fever, according to the BBC. She was taken to the national children’s hospital in the capital, Phnom Penh, then died later that day.

Her father also tested positive, although he has not exhibited any symptoms. Officials tested dead birds near the girl’s village and told residents not to touch dead or sick birds.

What to know about bird flu in humans

Bird flu, also known as avian influenza and H5N1, has affected over 58 million birds in the U.S. in the past year in what experts are calling the worst outbreak in history. The mortality rate in chickens is 90% to 100%.

Nevertheless, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider the risk to the general public to be low. Less than 10 cases of bird flu in humans have been reported since the onset of the epidemic in late 2021.

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It is possible for humans to pick up the virus through extended and unprotected contact with the saliva, mucous or feces of infected birds. People can become infected if the virus enters their body through the eyes, nose, mouth or respiratory system.

The severity of bird flu in humans ranges from “no symptoms or mild illness (e.g., eye infection, upper respiratory symptoms) to severe disease (e.g., pneumonia) that resulted in death,” the CDC’s website reads.

Human-to-human spread of the virus is very rare and has not extended past close contact. The strain that is currently circulating the globe has yet to be passed from human to human.

The future of bird flu

The effect of bird flu on chicken, egg and turkey production and prices cannot be overlooked; the wipeout of tens of millions of poultry has caused prices to soar and poultry farmers to invest millions of dollars in protection systems.

Experts in the U.S. say the outbreak is not subsiding any time soon, and neither will egg prices.

“It’s everywhere,” former U.S. chief veterinary officer John Clifford said, per The Wall Street Journal.

J.T. Dean, president of one of the top U.S. egg-producing companies, told the Journal that the virus is so contagious, “even a chance gust of wind can carry wild-bird droppings toward a barn vent and spread the virus inside.”

But despite bird flu rampaging through coops and causing the too-soon death of a young girl, the CDC says it has yet to become a public health crisis.

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