A highly infectious strain of bird flu has caused nine deaths in Cambodia this year alone, according to World Health Organization (WHO) reports. A six-year-old girl from a small village in the southern Kampot province has become the ninth confirmed death out of the 13 H5N1 bird flu virus cases this year in the southeast Asian country.

"Avian influenza H5N1 remains a serious threat to the health of all Cambodians. Children also seem to be most vulnerable and are at high risk because they like to play where poultry are found," Health Minister Mam Bunheng said in a statement.

Since 2005, there have been 34 confirmed H5N1 cases around Cambodia. Twenty-three of those cases involved children under the age of 14, and 21 were female. Once the infection sets in, mortality rate is considered to be around 60 percent.

"There have been recent poultry deaths in the village and the girl was likely to be exposed to sick and dead poultry before she became sick," the statement added.

Vaccinations against various strains of the bird flu virus have been developed; however, tests are still being conducted before widespread use is considered. Seasonal flu vaccines seem to have no effect on H5N1.

According to WHO, the disease cannot be spread through properly prepared and thoroughly cooked food items, and spread from person to person is considered rare. The majority of human infections is a result of home slaughter and subsequent handling of diseased or dead birds.

To protect you and your family from the avian influenza virus, make sure standard cooking temperatures are used to kill the virus in all parts of poultry or wild game.