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Death of girl Suspected to be due to Bird flu Outbreak

The death of a nine-year-old girl with symptoms similar to H5N1 avian flu, has led to fears of an outbreak of the disease although health authorities has said// that it would take another day to confirm whether she death was because of the H5N1 virus.

Geowthip Chiangin succumbed to high fever and pneumonia in a district hospital in Lop Buri province, 120km north of Bangkok, after suffering since Sunday.

According to Lop Buri's chief health official Pranor Khamthieng the girl had initially tested negative for the H5N1 virus. However samples have been sent to Bangkok for a more thorough investigation into whether she she had died of bird flu.

Meanwhile, in Chachoengsao province east of Bangkok, two patients, a 17-year-old youth and a 42-year-old woman, have been isolated in a state hospital following suspicion of infection with bird flu. Senior health officials have said that laboratory tests were being conducted to confirm the diagnosis.

Dr Thawat Suntrajarn, director of the Department of Disease Control, has said that following confirmation of earlier tests of human influenza, doctors at Ban Pho Hospital have isolated the two patients in a ward with closed-circuit television cameras, to monitor for bird-flu related symptoms around the clock.

Dr Thawat said, ''Because they are having a human influenza, further tests are need to confirm what type of the human flu virus they have and whether they also have bird flu.''

Dr Thawat said the young man had touched ducks as both he and the woman worked in a duck slaughterhouse in Chachoengsao province.

According to a local livestock official although the province has raised some five million chickens in farm no bird flu outbreak has been reported in local poultry.

Dr Kasiwat Sripradit, the hospital director said that the two patients were admitted with high fever and a bad cough and that doctors and clinical technicia ns had not found any evidence of infection in their lungs, such as the pneunomia-like symptoms suffered by bird flu patients. He added that their temperatures have gradually reduced.

Dr. Kasiwat said, ''We have only 70 tablets of Tamiflu in our drug stockpile. A suspected bird flu patient needs two tablets a day for five consecutive days. If we run out we still could get more supply within an hour from nearby hospitals.''

He assured that Ban Pho Hospital has set up special teams of doctors and medical staff to deal with suspicious cases of bird flu and a drill is planned for September to test their readiness.

On July 26 Thai health authorities confirmed the death of a 17-year-old male in the northern province of Phichit, from avian influenza, making him the kingdom's 15th human victim to the pandemic.

Since late 2003 Thailand has been fighting the bird flu pandemic, when it was was first detected among the country's commercial chicken farms, once a thriving export business.

Local officials said some 300,000 commercially-farmed chickens were culled last Sunday in an attempt to contain the outbreak in the country's northeastern border province of Nakhon Phanom.


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