February 06, 2013 00:00 By Pongphon Sarnsamak The Nation
The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation has resumed its nationwide campaign to randomly test birds for the deadly avian influenza virus (H5N1), to ensure Thailand is free from further outbreaks.
Over 300 barn swallows were collected from Silom by a veterinarian team from the department.
In checking the birds’ health to detect H5N1 virus, they also collected bird saliva and dropping samples, to be sent for lab tests at the National Institute of Animal Health and Kasetsart University.
The lab results should be known next week, deputy director of the department Teerapat Prayoonsit said, while leading the team of 100 veterinarians to catch birds in Silom.
To date, his department has found no spread of the virus among birds in Silom since the department started a campaign to detect H5N1 back in 1991.
The number of barn swallows in Silom was around 500,000 two years ago, but has dropped to 3,000-5,000 birds as local agencies have cut trees and removed electricity posts. Teerapat said 40 mobile teams of 800 veterinarians were monitoring for a possible bird-flu outbreak nationwide.
“We are collecting samples from birds in Samut Prakan, Trang, and Krabi and we will do the same in other areas later,” he said.
Thailand has reported 25 confirmed cases of human infection and 17 deaths since 2004. But over the past nine years there have been no reports of human infection or deaths.