Rumour on bird flu spread denied

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BANGKOK, Sept 20 – The Public Health Ministry today rejected a rumoured report on the spread of bird flu in a Bangkok office building and confirmed that Thailand has been free from avian influenza virus for over seven years.

Somsak Akksilp, deputy director general of the Disease Control Department, said a patient with A(H1N1) – the most common cause of human flu – was reported at an office building on Silom Road, leading to the distorted rumour of bird flu pandemic in the social media.

The 30-year-old man who worked at the CP Tower in Silom area was diagnosed by a physician to detect the flu after which disinfectant spray was used for the building – a standard health procedure, he said.

The flu was neither H5N1, the subtype of influenza A virus endemic to birds and a significant pandemic threat, nor H7N9, another type of avian influenza virus, said Dr Somsak, adding that the patient was recovering from the flu.

He quoted the Agriculture Ministry and the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry as confirming that Thailand has been free from bird flu for over seven years though the virus was found in dead fowl in neighbouring Cambodia.

However, the Public Health Ministry has been on alert for bird flu, he said and reported that 30,000 people, mostly children and the elderly, were treated for influenza from January 1 to September 10.

Suthana Hongthong, CP Group’s assistant vice president for corporate communications, confirmed that there was no case of avian influenza or H1N1 pandemic at the CP Tower on Thursday as widely rumoured.

She said the employee infected with flu was recovering at home after being treated at a hospital.