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H5N1 Bird Flu Confirmed in Thailand
July 10, 2005
>> The Livestock Development Department has detected new cases of avian influenza in Suphan Buri, effectively shattering the country's hope of declaring itself "bird flu-free" tomorrow and to boost poultry exports in the latter half of this year.
Checks are now taking place to determine whether bird flu has been the cause of the large number of deaths of fowl in six other provinces.
He was confident the latest outbreak was unlikely to spiral into a serious crisis, because the infections were limited to small locations.
Nirandorn said the department was checking whether the mass deaths of fowl in Pathum Thani, Chachoengsao, Prachin Buri, Kalasin, Lampang and Phetchabun recently were also related to bird flu.
Meanwhile, the Livestock Development Department's director-general Yukol Limlamthong said he was especially concerned about the situation in nine provinces where bird-flu outbreaks were previously reported. These provinces include Suphan Buri, Phitsanulok, Lop Buri, Chai Nat and Nakhon Sawan. <<
The above comments suggest H5N1 is still killing birds in Thailand. Thailand has been filing reports to OIE every few weeks claiming no H5N1. The last report of H5N1 in birds was for the period ending April 15 with small outbreaks in Lop Buri and Suphan Buri.
Although Thailand was the first to make 2004 H5N1 sequences available last February and March, they have yet to release any 2005 sequences. The Manila report by WHO indicated 2005 isolates in Thailand were similar to 2005 isolates in northern Vietnam. All public 2005 sequences from northern Vietnam have an ARG missing in the HA cleavage site, matching 2003 and 2004 isolates from South Korea and Japan. However, the rest of the 2005 HA gene is very similar to 2004 isolates from Vietnam and Thailand, although the 2005 isolates have unique markers not found in any other H5N1 isolates.
The 2005 isolates in northern Vietnam are associated with milder cases and larger cluster. Thailand has denied human cases, although media reports describe patients from bird flu positive provinces with bird flu symptoms.
Confirmed H5 cases have been recently reported in Qinghai and Xinjiang provinces in China as well as Vietnam and the Philippines. Last week's Nature paper includes H5N1 sequences from live markets in Shantou, Fujian, Guangdong, Hunan, and Yunnan provinces in 2005. Since China has not reported any 2005 outbreaks in any of the above provinces in southeastern China, the current status of H5N1 in China is unknown, but likely active. India claim no H5N1 infections in birds or people, even though poultry workers have H5N1 antibodies and the H5N1 infected bar headed geese winter in northern India.
Clearly H5N1 activity in birds is being reported in the media more frequently, but the true H5N1 situation in Asia is largely unknown by the public.