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H5N1 Wild Bird Flu in Thailand?
August 31, 2005
Livestock Development Department director-general Yukol Limlamthong said that the lab test results confirmed bird flu in native chickens from the central province of Ayutthaya and the lower northern province of Kamphaeng Phet.
Regarding Thailand's overall bird flu situation, he said that three provinces--including Ayutthaya, Kamphaeng Phet, and Suphan Buri--are under close surveillance.
Mr. Yukol conceded that the situation is still worrisome regarding free-range ducks as farmers have failed to report the numbers of free-range ducks they are raising.
The confirmation of H5N1 in domestic chickens in Thailand may signal the arrival of H5N wild bird flu. As noted above, Thailand has free-range ducks which can interact with migrating water fowl. The H5N1 positive chickens may be serving as monitors for the arrival of wild bird flu (see dynamic map).
H5N1 has become endemic to southeast Asia, but that H5N1 is distinct from the H5N1 spreading across Asia. H5N1 has been confirmed at Qinghai Lake in China as well as Russia, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia. FAO has just issued a warning that the H5N1 from the migratory birds in the above areas could spread H5N1 to Europe, Africa, and eastern Asia. The outbreaks in Mongolia are approaching China, Japan, and Korea, while those in Kazakhstan and southern Siberia are targeting the Caspian, Black, and Mediterranian seas as well as Africa.
The long range migratory birds can transport H5N1 long distances, Bar headed geese, which have tested positive at Qinghai Lake and Erhel Lake can travel 1000 miles in less than 24 hours.
The H5N1 in wild birds from Qinghai Lake will likely generate new recombinants in southeast Asia, where one version is present in northern Vietnam and Thailand, while another version is present in southern Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia. These new recombinants could offer new challenges, since H5N1 in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Indonesia have previously been identified in fatal human cases.