Thailand: Dog contracts avian flu

Hospital vet calls on public not to panic or abandon pets after Suphan Buri case

A dog in Suphan Buri contracted bird flu after eating infected ducks, new findings show.

Prof Dr Yong Pooworawan, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University´s Faculty of Medicine, released the findings at a seminar at the university yesterday.

According to Yong, a researcher at Kasetsart University´s Kamp-haengsaen campus found that a dog had contracted bird flu.

The findings will be published in a foreign journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases, soon, Yong said. He declined to elaborate on the findings.

Since 2004, Thai researchers have studied the genetic codes of nearly 200 bird-flu strains and have finally been able to identify the cause of resistance to Tamiflu, a medicine used to treat avian influenza in humans, Yong said.

Following yesterday´s seminar, Rattathan Pattanarangsan, a veterinarian from Mahidol University, called on people not to panic over the emergence of bird flu in dogs.

"Please do not abandon your dogs in public places. You can prevent them from getting bird flu.

"Make sure you bury dead or ill chickens deep in the ground," he said.

Rattathan said it would be very difficult for infected dogs to pass on the bird-flu virus to humans.

Earlier, news reports that cats had contracted bird flu led panicking pet owners to abandon their cats.

Meanwhile, Medical Sciences Department director-general Paijit Warachit yesterday said the Public Health Ministry would link up with Chinese health officials to develop a vaccine against human influenza.

He said China was ready to pass on its know-how to Thailand.

"We hope to establish a vaccine factory within the next three to five years. Our factory will have capacity to produce two million vaccine doses a year," he said.

Paijit said the Public Health Ministry would next week convene a meeting on the issue with the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation and the Thai Red Cross Society.

He said there had been no reports of human-to-human transmission of bird flu to date.

However, were such human-to-human transmission to take place, the country would have a supply of up to 10 million doses of the vaccine against human influenza.