Health minister puts all of Thailand on bird flu alert

Aug 1, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Amid a rising number of cases of suspected avian flu in birds and humans, Thailand's health minister yesterday declared that all of the country's provinces are on alert, triggering tighter rules on bird transport and disposal.

Health officials are monitoring 765 workers and farm families who were involved with a cull over the weekend of 300,000 chickens in the Nakhon Phanom province, said a report today in The Nation, a Thai newspaper. So far, six people have developed a fever and two have exhibited influenza symptoms and are receiving oseltamivir, the report said.

Meanwhile, the number of people in other provinces who are being monitored for avian flu has apparently dropped from 80 in 19 provinces reported on Monday to 45 in 10 provinces on Tuesday.

Thailand reported its first human H5N1 avian influenza case and death of 2006 last week, a 17-year-old boy who died on Jul 24 in the Phichit province after handling dead chickens. In a report to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the Lower Northern Regional Veterinary Research and Development Centre in the Pitsanulok province said it confirmed the presence of H5N1 in chickens in Phichit during regular surveillance of high-risk areas. The positive test prompted full-scale preventive measures, which include screening, culling in affected areas, disinfecting affected and other high-risk areas, quarantining, and banning poultry transport for 30 days.

In other news, Bloomberg reported today that Thailand has vowed to jail farmers who do not promptly report poultry deaths. The news service quoted a statement from Thai agriculture minister Sudarat Keyuraphan that farmers who don't notify officials about bird deaths within 12 hours could face up to 2 months in jail and a fine of up to 4,000 baht ($106). The ministry also said the same penalties would apply to people in border provinces who violate a ban prohibiting poultry from Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar.

See also:

Thailand's Jul 26 report to the OIE
http://web.oie.int/wahis/reports/en_fup_0000003364_20061107_121544.pdf

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