A panel of experts in Thailand is expected to release a report this week on what killed an Edmonton man and several other tourists earlier this year.
The Thai panel of experts is believed to have considered viral, toxin and chemical causes based on in part final toxicology testing from some of the victims. The report will be based on lab tests done in Germany, Japan, the United States and Thailand. The Public Health Ministry in Thailand cautions: “It is possible that, despite the best efforts of Thai authorities and international partners, a complete explanation for the cause of illness and death may not be found for all cases.”
Bill Mah died Jan. 26 in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand of “suspected natural disease” after vacationing in the city for two weeks prior.
Friend and travel companion Ken Fraser told freelance journalist Andrew Drummond that although Mah was staying at the People Palace Hotel, he had used facilities, including the swimming pool, at the Downtown Inn — a common location between six other people who have died in the region since January.
“His death is a complete mystery. He seemed fit enough with no history of heart problems. We have not been told his cause of death. We only have an initial report,” Fraser told Drummond.
Fraser said Mah has had no history of heart problems and in the seven weeks since his death, no toxicology reports have been returned.
“We have pressed the Canadian consul to try and get answers for us,” said Fraser. “I know Bill used the facilities at the Downtown Inn because he asked me to go there with him but I had other things to do.”
On Jan. 24, Mah began to feel sick, complaining of lack of sleep due to chest pains. He was taken to the local hospital where Fraser says he was kept for 24 hours and tested for signs of a heart attack.
“The tests all came back negative. On the morning of the 26th, the chest pains were less and the doctor diagnosed him with acid reflux and sent him home,” Fraser told Drummond.
“That evening, when I checked on him, he was in bed sweating and saying that he was not feeling well again. Later when I called on him, he came to the door but before he could open it. I could hear him collapse on the other side. We had to kick the door in.
“We tried to revive him in vain. At the hospital he was pronounced dead 15 minutes after arrival.”
Drummond reported that the Thailand Department for Disease Control said so far there are no links between the deaths of cases examined of people visiting Chiang Mai in January and February and no link to the Downtown Inn.
Chiang Mai Governor Pannada Disakul reportedly said the deaths were coincidental.
Staff at Chiang Mai Ram hospital stand by their lab test results and EKG and conclude that Bill was not having a heart attack so we want to know what it was. And the hospital said he died of ‘suspected natural causes pending toxicology reports’.
The relatives of Mr. Mah are now joining a chorus of relatives who believe the authorities are playing down the presence of a virus in the city.
American Tony Pandola is demanding the lab results on the death of his 33-yr-old wife Soraya Pandola in January. He claims she had the same symptoms as Sarah Carter, from Auckland, 23, who died in hospital after being taken ill with two friends in the Downtown Hotel.
But Soraya like Mr. Mah was not staying at the Downtown Inn.
Briton Stephen Everitt, from Boston, Lincolnshire, in England is demanding to know how his parents George, 78 and Eileen, 74, died simultaneously of a heart attack at the Downtown Hotel Room 423 on February 18th.
“How could both my parents have died at the same time?”
And Richard Carter the father of Sarah claims simply that there is a cover-up going on and has demanded that the Downtown Inn be closed until the truth is found out about the deaths.
Little is known of the Thai victim tourist guide Waraporn Pungmahisiranon, 47, whose body was taken from room 518 of the hotel on March 3rd the same day as Sarah Carter was taken ill in Room 516 next door, nor of the French victim, also a woman.
Thailand’s Department for Disease Control says it can find no links between the deaths of the six cases it had examined of people visiting Chiang Mai in January and February and no link to the Downtown Inn owned by a millionaire former Mayor of the city. But they had found evidence of the Coxsackie virus in Sarah and ‘Echovirus’ in another. Four of the deaths were due to myocarditis.
People can contract the Coxsackie and Echo virus from food, water, in the air, and even objects such as bed linen or taps (faucets)