A 17-year old man who died of bird flu in Thailand last month suggests the virus is being under-reported in poultry, the influenza team at the European Centre for Disease Surveillance and Control said.
The youth from a northern province was hospitalized on July 18 suffering fever, cough and headache and died six days later, the Thai Bureau of General Communicable Diseases said in a July 26 report.
A week before his symptoms appeared he buried 10 dead chickens, touching the carcasses with his bare hands. His lung swab tested positive for the H5N1 avian flu strain.
The case “could be an example of the phenomenon of a sentinel human already seen in other countries, where it is only the severe illness or death of a person from H5N1 that triggers detection or reporting of H5N1 in poultry,”‘ the team in Stockholm said in a report. “This suggests under-detection or under-reporting of poultry deaths.”‘
Thailand widened the search for avian flu patients and improved surveillance for the virus in poultry as a result of the death of the youth.
About 280 people with respiratory symptoms are being investigated for H5N1 infection in Thailand, of whom 70 are from Phichit, the same province where the teenager died last week, the country’s Bureau of General Communicable Diseases said.
The initial test of a 61-year-old woman in central Thailand who fell ill with bird-flu-like symptoms showed positive for avian influenza, Thai officials and local media reported Thursday.
Thailand’s Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan said measures have been imposed to strictly monitor the spread of bird flu in virus-prone areas.
She said five major risk spots would be under close surveillance. Four of them are in the northern province of Phichit and the fifth in nearby Uttaradit.
Admitting that chickens have been illegally transported from one spot to another, she said officials of the Livestock Development Department at checkpoints have been instructed to strictly check the poultry movement and violators would face harsh punishment.