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Ciptapangan Visitor
Thailand Says 59-Year-Old Man Dies of Bird Flu
posted by admin on 27/09/06

Cock fighting is hugely popular in Thailand, and owners have resisted previous culls by hiding their expensive birds.

September 27, 2006

BANGKOK, Thailand -- A 59-year-old Thai man who bred and raised fighting cocks in northeastern Thailand contracted the H5N1 bird-flu virus and has died, bringing the country's human death toll from the disease to 17, health officials said Tuesday.

The man, from Nong Bua Lamphu province, had been treating his sick fighting cocks with herbal medicines when he was exposed to the disease, said Thawat Suntrajarn, director-general of the Department of Communicable Disease Control. He became ill on July 14 with fever and aches, and died on Aug. 10, the Health Ministry said.

"He didn't give his full history to the doctor -- that he raised chickens, that they were sick, and that they had died," Mr. Thawat said. "He was scared that the agriculture officials would kill his birds." Mr. Thawat said the man had about 50 fighting cocks on his farm and assumed that since there weren't any bird-flu outbreaks in the area near his home that his birds couldn't possibly have died of bird flu.

"His wife finally confessed 14 days after he became sick," Mr. Thawat said, adding that officials have gone to the man's farm to cull poultry according to standard protocol.

Cock fighting is hugely popular in Thailand, and owners have resisted previous culls by hiding their expensive birds.

The Health Ministry said Thailand has logged 17 human deaths from the disease. The H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed at least 146 people world-wide since it started ravaging poultry stocks in Asia three years ago, according to the World Health Organization. The figure hasn't yet been updated to include the most recent death in Thailand.

Most human deaths have been traced to direct contact with sick birds, but experts fear the virus could mutate into a more easily transmissible form, potentially causing a deadly global pandemic.

The man came from the None Sang district of Nong Bua Lamphu, about 260 miles northeast of Bangkok.

Copyright (c) 2006 The Associated Press

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