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Volunteers to help monitor bird flu in Thailand
11 August 2006

Bangkok, Thailand: After a teenager died and more birds infected, Thailand's Public Health officials are mobilizing some 7,500 volunteers to look for humans and poultry infected with the deadly bird flu virus in the capital Bangkok.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu virus, which has already killed 46 people, has recently re-emerged with more ducks and geese found to be infected with the strain avian flu.

Thai Public Health Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan Khunying Sudarat said livestock officials are recruiting farmers to volunteer and train them on how to identify infected fowl and people.

She said the authorities expected to train some 7,500 volunteers within this month and would deploy one of them in every area at risk in Bangkok to closely monitor bird flu victims.

The minister met with about 100 poultry farmers in Lat Phrao District and surrounding areas and expressed her concern regarding the conventional way of raising chickens that could pose a threat to human health.

''I am worried as chickens live in close contact with farmers and villagers who keep hens, fighting cocks or pet chickens,'' she said.

She told the farmers and the villagers to seek advice from local livestock officials on precautionary measures against bird flu and other epidemics in fowls.

Khunying Sudarat said the government had planned to close cock fighting rings in the capital, but would allow services that carry out blood tests for bird flu virus in poultry every month to continue.