AUTHORITIES in Sa Kaeo province boosted surveillance to the highest level at Aranyaprathep checkpoint today (Feb. 28) after Cambodia’s death toll from avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu, rose to two, Naewna newspaper said.
At 8.30 a.m. Mr. Wiboon Srimankongtham, head of the Sa Kaeo animal quarantine station, ordered Mr. Yuttana Sophi, a veterinarian at this station, to coordinate with Lt. Thavorn Boonpeng, commander of the 1302nd Ranger Company, 13th Ranger Forces Regiment, in taking a mobile sprayer and disinfecting the checkpoint.
Customs officials were told to prevent the smuggling of poultry and poultry carcasses from the Cambodian border town of Poipet which is just across the border from Aranyaprathet and disinfect all vehicles coming in.
Moreover, carpets soaked with disinfectant were placed at the checkpoint to disinfect the shoes of those crossing over by foot.
Yuttana said the Asean Emergency Operation Centre Network had sent word that the father of an 11-year-old girl who died on Feb. 22 a day after being hospitalized upon getting infected with A subtype of H5N1 avian influenza strain too had died. He was among 12 persons under watch for possible exposure to infection.
The two deaths occurred in Prey Weng province adjacent to Vietnam.
Wiboon said the last outbreak of bird flu in Thailand was 2004 when 17 of 25 patients died, which is a 68% death rate. It has since then been completely eliminated from Thailand and the country is now free of this infection.
However, risk analysis shows that bird flu could spread in Thailand through illegal smuggling of poultry and poultry carcasses as well as via vehicles entering through the border checkpoint.
This is why strict measures have now been imposed along the Thai-Cambodian border in this province, he added.
Aranyaprathet checkpoint being thoroughly disinfected while officials check the belongings of people crossing over the border to Thailand. All photos: Naewna