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UN Food and Agriculture Organisation Warning of New H5N1 Virus



Thailand's Ministry of Public Health has remained vigilant for the possibility of an outbreak of bird flu after patients contracting the disease were reported in Vietnam and Cambodia, but no patients and no poultry dying of suspicious causes have been reported here.


Dr Pasakorn Akarasewi, director of Thailand’s Bureau of Epidemiology said that the United Nations (UN ) warned of a possible resurgence of the bird flu outbreak, calling for all countries to heighten surveillance.

According to the latest report, a six-year-old girl is among the eight deaths from avian flu virus H5N1 in Cambodia this year.

However, in Thailand, there have been no H5N1 patients so far and no suspicious deaths of poultry.

The public health ministry has cooperated with the livestock department to monitor the situation closely after Vietnam and Cambodia reported H5N1 patients.

Regarding drug resistance problems, he said no irregularity was detected in the use of influenza drug Tamiflu (Oseltamivir).

Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) head said there have been no reports of the H5N1 avian influenza virus showing resistance to Tamiflu from Chulalongkorn University, the Disease Control Department and the public health ministry, which have duties to keep surveillance of the diseases.

The H5N1 virus has infected 565 people since it first appeared in 2003, killing 331 of them, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) figures.

The latest death occurred earlier this month in Cambodia, which has registered eight cases of human infection this year, all of them fatal, according to the FAO.

The United Nations has warned of a possible resurgence of the deadly bird flu virus, saying wild bird migrations had brought it to previously virus-free countries.

The public health ministry has cooperated with the livestock department to monitor the situation closely after Vietnam and Cambodia reported H5N1 patients.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said a new mutant strain of the H5N1 virus was spreading in Asia and beyond, with unpredictable risks to human health.

The organisation said it was concerned with “the appearance in China and Vietnam of a variant virus apparently able to sidestep the defences provided by existing vaccines”.

Virus circulation in Vietnam poses a direct threat to Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia as well as endangering the Korean peninsula and Japan further afield, it said in a statement.

The advance appears to be associated with migratory bird movements, according to FAO chief veterinary officer Juan Lubroth.

He said migrations help the virus travel over long distances, causing the H5N1 virus to show up in poultry or wild birds in countries that had been virus-free for several years.

“Wild birds may introduce the virus, but peoples’ actions in poultry production and marketing spread it,” Mr Lubroth added.

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