23 January 2004





Dear All

Battery Farms, Crossing of Regional barriers, climate change, transmission to wild life and constantly moving human populations all contribute to the spread of disease


Thailand's first case of bird flu has been confirmed, as the WHO fears the deadly disease is rapidly spreading across Asia (pic: AAP)

Thailand’s first case of bird flu was confirmed on Thursday as the World Health Organisation (WHO) said it feared the H5N1 strain was spreading across Asia.

A Thai senator said a child from
Thailand’s Suphan Buri province had tested positive, after the government admitted three people were being tested for the fatal disease.

Senator Nirun Phitakwatchara accused Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s office of covering up the outbreak of the disease, after repeatedly denying bird flu had hit

"All the academics and experts have had to shut up due to political interference. As a matter of fact they realised that the outbreak had occurred since last November," he said.

Thailand’s announcement came as Bod Dietz, the UN health agency's spokesman in Vietnam, said there were "mounting opportunities" for the virus to mutate.

"We see this as an issue of growing concern that more countries have H5N1 infections among poultry stock," Mr Dietz said.

"Although we have seen no evidence of human-to-human transmission, the next step would be for that to occur.

"It is impossible to predict a time or date for this but there are mounting opportunities for the virus to alter its form and begin affecting the human population," he said.

Meanwhile, the WHO said on Thursday a prototype vaccine to protect humans from the avian influenza could be ready for clinical testing shortly.

It said "a prototype virus could be made available to vaccine manufacturing companies within about four weeks," but that it would take several steps before the vaccine could be ready for use in humans.

SOURCE: World News



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