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Dog with bird flu sparks new fears
Updated: 2004-10-03 20:43

An nine-year-old Thai girl and a dog were confirmed to have been infected with Asia's deadly bird flu on Sunday as the country battled a second major outbreak of the virus this year, authorities said.

A dog lies next to a Thai man at a temple in Bangkok, October 3, 2004. Asia's deadly bird flu has been found in a dog for the first time in Thailand, authorities said on Sunday as the country battles a second major outbreak of the virus this year. [Reuters]

Dutch researchers reported last month that cats can get the avian influenza virus, which means pets are at risk of getting and spreading the disease.

The girl, from the northern province of Phetchabun, takes to four the number of people in Thailand infected with the H5N1 virus, which has killed 20 Vietnamese and 10 Thais.

"Lab tests confirmed twice she was definitely infected by H5N1," Deputy Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said in a statement.

The girl was in poor condition since being sent to hospital last Monday, Anutin said.

Among the other cases, a 32-year-old woman is being treated in hospital in the northern province of Khamphaeng Phet.

She is the sister of a woman who died of bird flu last month and is believed to be Thailand's first probable case of human transmission of the virus. Health authorities say there is no evidence to suggest the case could set off a human pandemic.

A man who raised fighting cocks in Prachinburi province died of bird flu in early September.

Thai authorities also confirmed on Sunday the country's first case of bird flu in a dog.

"We have found that a dog was infected by the H5N1 virus," Health Ministry spokeswoman Nittaya Chanruangmahaphol said, adding the case was confirmed by laboratory tests conducted at two Thai universities.

She gave no further details, but Thai newspapers reported on Sunday that the dog was still alive.

A campaign ordered by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to wipe out the virus by the end of October began last week, with hundreds of thousands of volunteers and officials from the Health and Agriculture ministries being mobilized.

So far, 92 areas in 28 provinces are under bird flu watch, of which 50 areas were confirmed to have been hit by the virus, Livestock Department officials say.

Tens of millions of fowl have been slaughtered in the effort to eradicate the disease since it swept across much of Asia early this year.

For a few months it looked like it was being defeated, but it sprang up again in Thailand and Vietnam in July.

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