The Department of Disease Control (DDC) has put out an alert about a bird flu outbreak after reports of a death in Cambodia.
Dr Sopon Iamsirithaworn, the DDC deputy chief, said the department has been closely monitoring the situation in the neighbouring country and found that an 11-year-old girl developed a fever on Feb 16 and was found dead on Feb 21 in Prey Veng province, which shares a border with Vietnam. Her father is also now infected with the disease, with mild symptoms. The cases were reported to the World Health Organization (WHO).
"We have not detected bird flu in Thailand for 16 years, but we have never lowered our guard. We have preventive measures to monitor the disease," Dr Sopon said.
He said the ministry has sought to cooperate with the Cambodian government in containing the H5N1 virus, which spreads from birds, including chickens and ducks. The infection has a high mortality rate in chickens and can infect humans through direct contact, with respiratory system failure the most dangerous outcome.
Dr Sopon said Thailand has measures to prevent smuggled chickens entering from neighbouring countries. Any unusual deaths of fowl in the country must be reported to the Department of Livestock Development (DLD) immediately for their appropriate destruction. All measures introduced in 2006 when there was a bird flu outbreak will be implemented as part of the preventive measures, he said.
"On March 2, we will invite related agencies, including the DLD and the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, to beef up the measures," he said.
The WHO called for vigilance after the detection of bird flu in mammals earlier this month. Currently, the disease has been found in 21 countries, including Cambodia. The WHO recorded 457 deaths out of 870 infected cases from 2003 to 2014.