Bird flu kills Thai youth amid new outbreaks

  • World
  • Wednesday, 26 Jul 2006

By Nopporn Wong-Anan

BANGKOK (Reuters) - A 17-year-old Thai has died of the H5N1 bird flu virus, the country's 15th death since the virus swept across parts of Asia in late 2003, a senior health official said on Wednesday. 

The young man died on Monday in the northern province of Pichit, where authorities have confirmed the country's first outbreak of the virus among poultry in eight months. 

"The final lab test confirmed that he died of bird flu," Kamnuan Ungchusak, head of the Health Ministry's epidemiology bureau, told Reuters by telephone from the hospital where the youth died. 

He is believed to have caught the virus while helping his father bury dead chickens last week. The father remained healthy, Kamnuan said. 

"We have quarantined the family and there is no report of a new case yet," he said. 

The last death in Thailand occurred in December 2005. 

Not including the latest death, bird flu has killed 132 people worldwide since the virus re-emerged in Asia in 2003, the World Health Organization says. 

At present, H5N1 remains essentially a disease of birds and is hard for people to catch. 

But scientists fear the virus could mutate into a form that spreads easily among humans and trigger a pandemic in which millions could die. 

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