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Thailand Confirms Two Cases of Bird Flu

Two suspected cases had been confirmed as bird flu infection, Thai Public Health Minister Sudarat Keyuthaphan told reporters on Friday afternoon in Bangkok.


"A seven-year-old boy from Suphan Buri and a six-year-old one from Kanchanaburi have been tested positive for the H5N1 virus," the minister told a press conference.


The two boys both lived close to chicken farms in two central Thai provinces and had contacted with chickens recently, said Sudarat.


She said the two patients with high temperature were currently receiving treatment in a hospital in Bangkok, while medical staff gave antibiotic medicine to other patients suspected of being infected.


She also said that there were at least four suspected cases yet to be confirmed except the two boys.


It's the first time that the government admitted the country has bird flu, which had devastated poultry industry in Vietnam, Japan and South Korea and claimed five Vietnamese' lives.


Thailand's Agriculture Ministry was currently carrying on tests over samples from 100,000 chickens on poultry farms to further study the disease.


Since November last year, Thailand had killed more than 850,000 sick chickens and the government explained the culling as measures to curb the spread of a foul cholera rather than bird flu.


Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Japan and France have declared to suspend importing poultry products from Thailand.


Japan was Thailand's largest importer of chickens, buying some 270,000 tons of chicken last year, about half of the kingdom's total chicken export.


The European Union, the second largest chicken importer from Thailand, earlier threatened an immediate ban on Thailand's poultry products if the suspected cases were confirmed.


Thailand was world's fourth largest chicken exporter. It shipped out 540,000 tons of chicken worth some US$1.3 billion last year and had a target of some 600,000 export for this year.

(Xinhua News Agency January 23, 2004)

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