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Thai new bird flu red zones urged to cull fowl in three days
By (Xinhua)
Updated: 2004-02-18 13:57

The Thai Agriculture Ministry urged 14 newly declared bird flu control zones of nine provinces to cull all poultry within three days, warning the officials who disobey the order would be punished, the Nation newspaper reported Wednesday.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Newin Chidchob was quoted as saying that if the 14 new red zones could not change to yellow zones in three days, the officials of the provinces would be in trouble.

He said that the re-emergence of the fatal bird flu virus in the 14 places was apparently a result of people smuggling fighting cocks from red zones where all poultry had been ordered to be destroyed.

In 13 out of the 14 areas, the virus had been found in fighting cocks and in the 14th red zone, the virus was found in domestic ducks whose owners had moved them around grazing grounds, Newin said.

He also asked people not to smuggle their valuable fighting birds out of red and yellow zones so as to prevent the spread of the disease.

From Jan. 23 to Feb. 8, the Thai government successively declared 163 points of 40 provinces as bird flu control zones and implemented strict measures to control the spread of the epidemic.

According to the rule of the Thai government, in the control zone chickens must be culled within a five-kilometer radius of where the virus was found and chickens may not be moved outside a 50-kilometer radius.

The government announced on Feb. 14 that all of the bird flu control zones had been downgraded to monitor zones and if there was no new case detected in 21 days, the nation would be declared bird flu free.

However, results of the latest test released Monday showed that the bird flu re-emerged in 14 points of nine provinces.

But Newin said it was a good sign that the virus had been found in the 14 new areas, as it showed the government was handling the outbreak. Of 2,000 samples taken in those areas, only 0.7 percent had tested positive.

Newin said in the first round of tests, 100,000 samples were taken from 163 areas around the country. But in the second round, the government took 10,000 samples, concentrating on areas where the virus had been detected in the first round.

He said the government was still awaiting results from the remaining 8,000 samples and admitted that it was possible that more infections might be found.

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