Avian flu hits two more Thai provinces

Jul 12, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – Highly pathogenic avian influenza has popped up in two provinces in northern Thailand, bringing the number of recently affected provinces to four.

Avian flu has struck farms in Sukhothai and Uttaradit, the Bangkok Post reported yesterday. Last week officials reported the disease on one farm in each of two central provinces, Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani.

The Post report did not say how many farms in the northern provinces were hit, but it said the outbreaks involved two districts in Sukhothai and one in Uttaradit. About 2,000 chickens were to be culled in the two provinces, the story said.

Another 300 chickens died in the northeastern province of Mukdahan, but agriculture officials did not yet know if the disease was avian flu, the report said.

The Post story did not identify the virus involved in the latest outbreaks. Wire service reports last week said the virus in the two central provinces was H5N1, the same subtype as in the widespread outbreaks in Asia earlier this year.

In related news, a Chinese expert said the H5N1 virus involved in the outbreak reported last week in China had not mutated since the spring, when China had a number of outbreaks. The official was quoted in a Jul 11 story from Xinhua, the state news agency.

The Xinhua report said 37 people who had contact with dead chickens or worked at the outbreak site in Anhui province were released from medical observation Jul 10.

The latest outbreaks in China, Thailand, and Vietnam confirm that the H5N1 virus is still endemic in the region, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a Jul 9 statement.

"The new cases do not come as a surprise," according to Joseph Domenech, chief of the FAO's Animal Health Service. The FAO statement said, "There are epidemiological indications that the virus is still present at least in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Thailand and Viet Nam," creating a potential for new outbreaks as poultry farms are restocked.

See also:

Jul 9 FAO statement
http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2004/48087/index.html

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