Saturday, August 05, 2006

Thailand confirms second bird flu death this year; raises health awareness

Thailand confirms second bird flu death this year; raises health awareness
13:35:55 EDT Aug 5, 2006
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) - A 27-year-old man has died of bird flu, becoming the second person this year to be killed by the disease in Thailand, a Health Ministry official said Saturday.

Dr. Thawat Suntrajarn, chief of the Department of Communicable Disease Control, said the man the local media identified as Thiangthong Singsamran came from Uthai Thani province in the country's north.

"I can confirm the man tested positive for the H5N1 virus," Thawat said, referring to results of tests carried out at Bangkok's Siriraj hospital.

The man became sick on July 24, a few days after burying one of his 16 free-range chickens that had died, a health ministry statement said.

On July 31, he was diagnosed with pneumonia and was given the anti-viral drug oseltamivir that is used to treat bird flu in humans. But his condition worsened and he died on Thursday, the statement said.

His wife has been given oseltamivir and will be monitored for the next 14 days, it added.

At least 134 people have died worldwide since the disease began spreading in Asia in late 2003, according to the World Health Organization, including 15 in Thailand.

The WHO has not yet confirmed the latest death in Thailand.

In the past two weeks, Thailand has confirmed two outbreaks of H5N1 in poultry and recorded its first human fatalities from the disease in eight months.

News of the new outbreaks triggered increased concern about the disease, and hundreds of people who earlier had bird flu-like symptoms but were cleared after testing were being checked again.

Health officials also said a special committee will be created in the northern province of Nakhon Phanom, where one of the outbreaks occurred, to assist health agencies while the province will receive equipment for rapid testing of suspected cases.

Authorities will also do more to educate people about the disease, and volunteers in every village will look for symptoms among their neighbours.

In his weekly radio address Saturday, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra called for farmers to quickly report the death of chickens. In the past, he has accused some farmers of trying to cover up outbreaks.

"When people who have contacted chicken become sick, it is advisable for them to immediately inform the authorities so that they could control the disease from spreading," Thaksin said.

© The Canadian Press, 2006


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