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Thailand Authorities Deny Bird Flu Outbreak

by 5m Editor
13 January 2004, at 12:00am

THAILAND - Despite millions of chickens dying in the central provinces of Thailand, the Livestock Department in the country have refused to admit that the current outbreak is the much dreaded bird flu virus.

Thailand Authorities Deny Bird Flu Outbreak - THAILAND - Despite millions of chickens dying in the central provinces of Thailand, the Livestock Department in the country have refused to admit that the current outbreak is the much dreaded bird flu virus.

A farmer in Nakhon Pathom who lost about 10,000 chickens since the outbreak in November, said many of the dead chickens had symptoms similar to avian influenza, better known as bird flu. The chickens developed high temperature, suffered internal bleeding and died suddenly.

"This is the most horrible disease we've ever seen. It attacks our farms very fast. We are shocked and have no idea how to handle it.

"The department, meanwhile, is not telling us what the disease is. The outbreak seems to be out of control,'' said the farmer, who asked not to be named. Disclosing the fact Thai chickens were contaminated with bird flu might hurt Thai poultry exports, he said.

"But by publicly disclosing the fact, farmers and relevant agencies would be able to deal with the outbreak properly,'' he said. Livestock Department director-general Yukol Limlaemthong issued a clarification on Dec 16, stating that the outbreak affecting local poultry farms had nothing to do with bird flu.

Instead, it was due to infection by a bacteria called pastuerella multocida, he said. The department then banned people moving dead poultry out of affected areas and ordered the slaughter of 14,000 poultry in Chachoengsao and 20,000 in Ang Thong provinces.

Another farmer from Bangkok's Nong Chok district, who sent samples for forensic testing at the department's National Institute of Animal Health on Jan 5, said the vets refused to disclose the laboratory results at first, but eventually admitted that the chicken had been infected with bird flu.

More than 300 chickens at his farm died in December. A neighbouring farm lost as many as 200,000 chickens, he said. Institute director Nimit Traiwanawan said the number of diseased chickens being submitted for tests had increased sharply since December.

"The number of cases increased from four or five a day to more than 20 cases a day,'' said Dr Nimit. He declined to reveal results of the tests or say why the birds died.

"Bird flu is a sensitive issue. I am not allowed to talk about the cause of the deaths,'' he said. Veterinarian Nirundorn Aungtragoolsuk, acting director of the Livestock Disease Control Bureau, insisted that Thailand was still free of bird flu, even though the disease had swept through several Asian countries, including Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea.

Bangkok has imposed a ban on chicken shipments from these countries, he said.

"The ongoing epidemic is mainly caused by the poultry raisers' poor farm management practices, which cause stress and result in diseases to the poultry population.

"However, the epidemic is under control. By the end of this week, no more chickens will be dying from this bacteria,'' Dr Nirundorn said.

Only 107,000 chickens had died, mainly in Nakhon Sawan province. However, some media reports claimed about 40 million chickens had died so far. Dr Nirundorn suggested poultry farmers adopt extra-strict sanitary conditions to prevent the transmission of diseases. If any sign of bird flu was detected at any poultry farm, said Dr Nirundorn, all chickens within a radius of five kilometres would have to be eliminated.

Source: eFeedLink - 1st December 2003

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