Thai authorities to keep close watch on Ebola, bird flu next year

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BANGKOK, Dec 29 — Thais are advised to be cautious about Ebola, bird flu, influenza and hemorrhagic fever in 2015.

Regarding the disease outlook next year, Opart Karnkawinpong, deputy director-general of the Department of Disease Control, said the international community will closely monitor the Ebola virus, especially in the countries where it could not be contained, like Sierra Leone.

He said that Ebola would be brought under control in the middle of next year, and that Thailand and other ASEAN member states were joining forces to cope with the disease.

Their cooperation includes laboratory preparation for Ebola tests.

Dr Opart cited World Health Organization reports that 19,000 people had been infected with Ebola and 7,000 died.

Regarding avian influenza, he said that there were more strains but those in Southeast Asia and Asia remained the same: H5N1 and H7N9.

Dr Opart commented that the number of influenza patients should drop next year because it would be warmer, but vaccination for people in risk groups must continue, he said.

This year influenza killed about 50 persons in Thailand and the number of patients exceeded 60,000 early this year due to cold weather.

He projects that some insect-carried diseases like hemorrhagic fever will spread next year due to warmer weather that will stimulate mosquito growth.

More than 40,000 fever patients are expected next year, he said, urging the control of mosquitoes, the carrier.

Dr Opart also warned that the hand, foot and mouth disease would continue to attack young children next year and he recommended frequent hand washing and the cleaning of appliances to control it.