Cholera outbreak hits Thai chickens

Even as bird flu ravages poultry farms across Southeast Asia, Thailand has been hit by a fresh scare: an outbreak of fowl cholera and bronchitis.

    Thailand has tightened controls to protect its billion-dollar chicken export industry

    Thailand, Asia's largest chicken exporter, announced on Wednesday it would cull more chickens in three provinces in an attempt to contain the


    "We still don't know how many chickens will be destroyed in the end but we need to clean up the whole industry" in affected areas to

    ensure they stay disease-free, deputy agriculture minister Newin Chidchob said.

    "If our officials detect any irregularities (with the chickens) we will immediately destroy them," he said, adding the central provinces of

    Suphan Buri, Chachoengsao and Nakhon Sawan were under close scrutiny.

    The minister said more than a million chickens had been culled since November last year, but precise numbers would be given out next


    Bird flu link feared

    Thai authorities have said the
    country is free of bird flu

    The outbreak of fowl cholera and bronchitis triggered fears of links with bird flu which is gripping several Asian countries and has left at

    least five people dead in Vietnam.

    Senior officials said no humans had died from the fowl cholera outbreak and insisted that there was no bird flu case in Thailand.

    However, the health ministry's disease control department on Wednesday warned the public to eat only well-cooked chicken and eggs to

    ensure all bacteria, viruses and parasites were safely destroyed.

    "The public health ministry wants to reassure the public that eating chicken meat and eggs is still safe, but they should always be well

    cooked before consumption," department director Charal Trinvuthipong said in a statement.

    Thailand has tightened controls - in particular to protect its billion-dollar export industry - by setting up checkpoints to monitor chicken

    transport, sending officials to slaughterhouses and increasing the number of birds being tested for disease.

    Infected falcon found

    The bird flu sweeping through parts of Asia has been found in Hong Kong, the government said on Wednesday after tests revealed a wild

    Peregrine falcon found dead near a chicken farm, had been infected.

    The dead bird was discovered in the northerly rural New Territories on Monday.

    It was taken for tests by the Agriculture, Fisheries and

    Conservation Department (AFCD) and found to have the H5N1 bird flu.

    The strain is the same as that which has decimated poultry stocks in South Korea, Japan and Taiwan and also led to the deaths of five

    people in Vietnam.

    "The presence of the H5N1 virus in the Peregrine falcon poses no immediate threat to the public," AFCD assistant director Lai Ching-wai

    cautioned in a statement.



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