Thailand: prime minister strict caution against bird flu

Thailand's prime minister on Saturday urged strict monitoring for bird flu and immediate reporting of sick chickens after the country confirmed two more human cases last week.

A 7-year-old boy was confirmed as having the virus on Friday, after his father died of bird flu. He is in stable condition, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said.

The 48-year-old man was Thailand's 13th human fatality from bird flu, and the first in more than a year. Nineteen people in Thailand have been confirmed as being infected with the virus since it swept into the country in late 2003.

Thaksin said authorities are now monitoring for bird flu in 21 provinces that previously had outbreaks. New cases were found in four provinces, and authorities have culled fowl and sprayed chemicals to kill the disease in those areas.

He urged villagers to take precautions such as wearing gloves when handling sick chickens.

"Cooked chickens are safe to eat, even if they had bird flu, but before they are cooked when they are raw that is when they are dangerous," Thaksin said. "Chicken farmers have to keep a close watch. If they see chickens that die, they have to report them immediately."

Thaksin said he would raise the issue of bird flu at a regional leaders' summit on economic cooperation in Bangkok in early November, and offer neighboring countries assistance to fight the disease, reported AP.

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