Thailand worried about potential return of H5N1 avian flu

27-09-2010 | |

Experts are warning the deadly H5N1 strain of avian influenza could re-emerge in Thailand even though there has been little sign of it for years, the Bangkok Post reported.

Migratory birds could possibly transmit avian influenza from animal to human without stringent disease surveillance, according to Pilaipan Puthavathana, a virologist at Siriraj Hospital’s department of microbiology.

“Nobody dares to say the virus has been wiped out here as long as our neighboring countries continue to report bird flu cases,” she said in a summary of a three-year follow up on avian flu surveillance from animals to humans in Thailand.

The country has not had a bird flu case in humans since July 2006. A total of 27 cases were confirmed with 17 deaths reported during a series of bird flu outbreaks from 2004 to 2006.

In contrast, Vietnam has confirmed 119 bird flu cases in humans to date, with 56 fatalities. The latest two cases were reported in its northern province of Bac Kan in April.

The initial epidemiological investigations showed there were sick and dead poultry in surrounding areas. The patients’ families slaughtered the sick poultry to eat.

Egypt was also still reporting bird flu outbreaks, although the mortality rate was less than in the Southeast Asian region, she said.