Thailand reports 25th H5N1 case

Sep 26, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Thailand reported its 25th H5N1 avian influenza case today, a fatal illness in a 60-year-old man who raised fighting roosters.

The man was from Bong Bua Lamphu province, about 379 miles northeast of Bangkok, and died on Aug 10, according to a Bloomberg News report today. Praj Boonyawongwirojana, the health ministry's permanent secretary, told reporters that samples from the man were taken 2 days later and that his diagnosis was confirmed 4 days ago.

If the World Health Organization (WHO) confirms the man's case, the global H5N1 count will rise to 250 cases with 147 deaths. The case marks the 17th H5N1 death in Thailand and the country's third case of 2006. After a nearly 8-month lull, the first case this year was confirmed on Jul 26. All three Thai cases this year have been fatal.

Thai disease control minister Thawat Suntrajarn told Bloomberg News that though the man had the H5N1 virus, his death was caused by complications from a bacterial infection. Repeated tests were needed to confirm that he had avian flu.

The patient was treated with the antiviral medication oseltamivir when doctors suspected he might have avian flu, the Bloomberg article notes.

Thawat said the man had been exposed to dead chickens. "It took about 14 days after he fell sick before he admitted to having contact with dead chickens. He loved his fighting cocks so much that he didn't want the authorities to kill his surviving birds if he reported a large number of dead chickens," he said.

According to Bloomberg, fighting cocks used in gambling bouts in Thailand are worth as much as 500,000 baht ($13,369).

Agence France-Presse reported today that Thailand's military, which seized control of the government in a bloodless coup last week, has asked public health officials to report avian flu cases in a timely manner.

Meanwhile in Indonesia, health officials are investigating a possible avian flu case cluster involving three siblings, one of whom died, according to a Reuters report today. The patients are from West Java province.

The oldest, a 25-year-old man, died 2 days ago at a hospital in Bandung, West Java's capitol. His 20-year-old brother and 15-year-old sister are hospitalized. Hadi Yusuf, head of the avian flu ward at Hasan Sadikin hospital, told Reuters that the surviving brother tested positive for the H5N1 virus and is on a ventilator. Test results from the sister are expected tomorrow, he said.

Yusuf said it's not clear if samples were taken from the brother who died.

The brothers had a history of contact with dead chickens, which they bought to feed their dog. However, Yusuf told Reuters that the girl had no known contact with chickens. "We need to suspect she got it from the brothers," he said.

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