PHUKET CITY: The Phuket Provincial Health Office (PPHO) has stepped up measures aimed at keeping bird ‘flu and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) out of Phuket.
The new procedures have been introduced after new cases of bird ‘flu were reported in Vietnam.
Until September, health officers will be in Tah Chat Chai to inspect and monitor poultry arriving from the mainland over the bridge. Birds brought to the island must be accompanied by proof that they have been inspected by veterinarians and been found free of the disease.
PPHO analyst Somboon Aiyarak told the Gazette, “In Thailand between December 2003 and January 2004, three patients were confirmed as having the disease, and two of these died. However, none of these patients was in Phuket.
“During the same period, the PPHO operated a disease prevention procedure in Phuket, although the situation did not require any chickens to be killed.
“The Phuket Provincial Livestock Office (PPLO) randomly tested 75 chickens and 46 pet birds, and we didn’t find one case of the disease.”
He said, “Because of the cases in Vietnam, and the renewed threat, we have implemented stronger measures.
“Staff will be at the Tah Chat Chai checkpoint 24 hours a day to monitor movement of poultry onto and off the island; anyone who brings in poultry has to provide proof that the birds have been declared healthy by a vet.
“This will be maintained until September, but if there are any cases of bird ‘flu in Thailand before then, it will be extended.”
The new steps were discussed at a meeting of the PPHO on August 17. The meeting also heard about what is being done to reduce the chances of Sars being brought to Phuket.
K. Somboon said around 3,000 boat passengers had been through a checkpoint installed at Phuket Sea Port last year, and 45,000 had been observed by Phuket International Communicable Disease Control Office as they arrived at the airport.
Three months ago, the office installed infra red instruments to check the body temperature of passengers, said K. Somboon.
He explained, ” If anyone has an abnormal body temperature, we need to check him or her. Passengers who are suspected of having either disease will be taken to hospital to be checked out. We want to keep Phuket free of these diseases.”
He said that between March 11 last year and July 5 this year, about 50,000 people arriving in Phuket had been screened. Of these 12 people – six Thais and six foreigners – were sent for observation, but none were found to be infected with Sars.
Suspected cases of Sars or bird ‘flu should be reported to the PPHO at Tel: 076-212297.
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