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Ciptapangan Visitor
Thailand kicks off campaign to halt bird flu
posted by admin on 08/08/06

BANGKOK, Aug 7 (Reuters)

 - Thailand began a week-long campaign on Monday to check every house in 29 provinces, including Bangkok's suburbs, in a bid to halt a resurging bird flu virus that has killed two people in the last three weeks.

Hundreds of thousands of volunteers will scour backyard farms for sick or dead chickens and educate villagers on the H5N1 virus, which re-emerged in July after an eight-month lull.

"Starting today, we will check every house in every village for suspicious chicken deaths," senior Agriculture Ministry official Nirandorn Uangtrakulsook told Reuters.

If any suspicious bird deaths are found, all poultry within a one km (mile) radius of the suspected outbreak would be culled immediately, said Nirandorn of the Livestock Department.

More than one third of Thailand's 76 provinces have been declared bird flu risk zones, but livestock officials said they had confirmed H5N1 in poultry in only two provinces, Pichit in the north and Nakhon Phanom in the northeast. However, health officials say a 27-year-old man who died in the central province of Uthai Thani, the country's second victim in two weeks, had caught the virus while burying sick chickens without wearing protective clothing.

H5N1, which scientists fear could mutate into a form that jumps easily between people although it shown no ability yet to do so, has killed 16 Thais since the virus swept across parts of Asia in late 2003.

The World Health Organization, which says at least 134 people died worldwide before the latest Thai death, has urged countries to be vigilant because the virus continues to circulate in poultry.

A 19-year-old Uthai Thani man taken to hospital last week with flu-like symptoms has so far tested negative for the virus.

Thawat Suntrajarn, head of the Health Ministry's Disease Control Department, said final test results were due on Tuesday.

Fewer than 10 patients, mostly in central and northern Thailand, remained under "intensified surveillance and investigation for the bird flu virus", he said.

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