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Screening of bird flu patients by pharmacies in Thailand

The Thai news agency reported that Thailand’s Public Health Ministry will encourage pharmacies and drug stores across the country to help screen patients in an attempt// to prevent the spread of bird flu.

Caretaker Public Health Minister Pinij Charusombat said, the blue-collar workers used to buying drugs at pharmacies instead of visiting doctors, may be left out from the ministry's bird flu screening system, in which state hospitals and other health care facilities screen their patients.

According to Pinij, many people when not feeling well, still prefer self-prescribing drugs for their own treatment to visiting a doctor or hospital. In such a situation, the country’s pharmacies are places that can most easily check regarding the sickness of people.

"Pharmacists at the drugstores must ask for details about each patient who buys drugs. If they are found to have contacted sick or dead poultry or live in areas where a large number of fowls died of unknown causes, the pharmacists will recommend the patients to meet the doctor immediately," he said.

“One reason for the increasing number of patients who are being included in the bird flu watchlist each day is because the country is entering the rainy season”, he said. "A lot of people catch the flu from the change of weather. Meanwhile, there is a seasonal outbreak of dengue fever. The symptoms of influenza, dengue fever, and bird flu are similar," Pinij said, "so the authorities have to implement strict measures to monitor the bird flu epidemic.

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