Rabies red alert in part of Hua Hin

Rabies red alert in part of Hua Hin

Tourists relax on a beach in Hua Hin district, Prachuap Khiri Khan. Part of the district has been declared a red rabies zone after a man who died recently was found to have rabies caught from a cat bite. (Photo by Chaiwat Satyaem)
Tourists relax on a beach in Hua Hin district, Prachuap Khiri Khan. Part of the district has been declared a red rabies zone after a man who died recently was found to have rabies caught from a cat bite. (Photo by Chaiwat Satyaem)

PRACHUAP KHIRI KHAN: Part of the tourist district of Hua Hin has been declared a red rabies zone after an elderly man was found to have died from the viral disease after being infected by a cat bite.

Dr Surin Suebsueng, health chief of Prachuap Khiri Khan, said the 61-year-old man was bitten by a cat two months ago and had not sought vaccination afterwards. He died at Hua Hin Hospital on Wednesday night.

Samples of the dead's hair, saliva, faeces and cerebrospinal fluid were tested and results were known on Thursday evening. He had been infected with rabies. The virus was found in the hair root, spinal fluid and saliva, he said.

Health officials in Hua Hin were mobilised to find people who had contact with the cat, which had since died, in the past two months, so they could be vaccinated.

An epidemic zone is declared when a disease is transmitted from animal to human and causes death, in this case rabies.

The last death from rabies in Hua Hin was 14 years ago, in 2004, Dr Surin said. People who had been bitten or even scratched and licked by a mammal must be vaccinated, without waiting for it to be proven a carrier, he said. There were ample supplies of the vaccine.

"Do not assume you are not infected because rabies can remain in a human body for six months to a year. All infected patients die. There is no cure," Dr Surin said.

The 61-year-old man was identified as Prasit Boonkerd, of Ban Nong Khon village, tambon Hin Lek Fai in Hua Hin district.

In January a cat bit his hand and he did not get a vaccination. He was recently admitted to hospital with a suspected rabies infection, having difficulty swallowing. He had not a fever. The cat died shortly after biting him.

Saroj Chanlad, animal health chief of Prachuap Khiri Khan, said Prasit was the first rabies patient in the province this year.

Pitaya Kanama, livestock development chief of Hua Hin, declared a rabies epidemic zone within a 5-kilometre radius of Ban Nong Khon, covering an area of 78.5 square kilometres, effective until April 10. Hua Hin district has a total area of 839 sq/km. Tambon Hin Lek Fai is about 3km west of downtown Hua Hin. 

The area has several tourist attractions, among them Khao Hin Lek Fai viewpoint, known for its magnificent view of Hua Hin and the coast.

Dr Suwannachai Watanayingcharoenchai, director-general of the Disease Control Department, said the case in Hua Hin brought the rabies human death toll this year to five. Previous deaths were reported in Nakhon Ratchasima, Songkhla, Surin and Trang provinces.

Earlier on Friday, the Department of Livestock Development announced that rabies epidemic zone declarations remain in force in areas of 24 provinces.

They are Chachoengsao, Chanthaburi, Chiang Rai, Chon Buri, Kalasin, Khon Kaen, Mukdahan, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Nan, Nonthaburi, Phatthalung, Phetchabun, Prachin Buri, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Rayong, Samut Prakan, Satun, Si Sa Ket, Songkhla, Surat Thani, Surin, Trang, and Ubon Ratchathani.


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