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Bird flu found in sparrows in central Thailand
Updated: 2005-10-17 22:03

Officials in central Thailand have found a new outbreak of bird flu, this time in sparrows, a provincial livestock official said Monday.

The department of conservation of flora and fauna in Ratchaburi province, 95 kilometers (60 miles) west of Bangkok, received one positive lab result for H5N1 last Thursday, said provincial livestock director Samreung Krutdam.

The fresh outbreak was reported amid rising international concern about the virus as it has spread west, with cases confirmed last week for the first time in Romania and Turkey of the virulent H5N1 strain of bird flu that has ravaged Thailand and other parts of Asia over the past two years.

Experts fear the virus may mutate into a form that can pass among people. In the worst-case scenario, millions of people could die. So far there are no indications that the virus has changed its form.

Thailand plans to conduct a bird flu vaccine trial on humans by the middle of next year, said a report Monday.

Paijit Warachit, director-general of the Public Health Ministry's Medical Sciences Department, said Japan's Osaka University will provide 30,000-100,000 doses of vaccine for the H5N1 strain, based on samples collected by the World Health Organization, reported the Bangkok Post.

He said the trial would begin in May, and initial results would be available about a year later.

Vietnam last week announced its own plans to test a homegrown vaccine against bird flu on a small number of humans early next year, also with a prototype virus provided by the WHO.

Bird flu has killed or forced the cull of more than 100 million poultry in Asia since it surfaced in Vietnam in late 2003. The disease has also killed 43 people in Vietnam, 12 in Thailand, four in Cambodia and three in Indonesia.

Thailand's Samreung said that 21 Thai provinces that have recently had bird flu outbreaks or were near outbreak areas started a public information campaign Monday to help prevent spread of the disease.

In nearby Nakhon Pathom province, local authorities found bird flu on three farms that raises partridges and chickens, the Thai News Agency reported Sunday.

Provincial deputy governor Tongtawee Pimsen said livestock officials had sprayed disinfectant in the affected areas and buried the dead birds in a bid to contain the disease within a 10-kilometer (6-mile) radius, TNA reported.

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