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Friday, December 09, 2005 

Thai 5-year-old becomes 70th known H5N1 death

Death toll from bird flu hits 70
A Thai boy has become the 70th Asian to die of bird flu, authorities said on Friday, as reports warned a flu pandemic could cost the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars as well as millions of lives.

The death of the 5-year-old boy from the central province of Nakhon Nayok, 110 km (70 miles) from Bangkok, took Thailand’s bird flu death toll to 14 out of 22 known cases since the virus swept through large parts of Asia in late 2003.

It was not certain how the boy caught the virus, which usually strikes those in close contact with infected fowl or their droppings, senior health officials said. The boy, who died in hospital on Wednesday, was not known to have had direct contact with chickens, health officials said.

“We believe that the boy contracted the virus from his surroundings because, although his family does not raise chickens, there are chickens raised in his neighbourhood,” said Thawat Suntrajarn, head of the Health Ministry’s Disease Control Department.

China also reported a new case of H5N1, the fifth person in the country known to have been infected with the deadly virus. The 31-year-old woman, who lived in Heishan county of Liaoning province, has since recovered.
The news that the boy didn't have any known direct contact with birds is worrying. Hopefully this is an anomaly, or there's some unrecognized contact with birds that his family may not know about. If more of these "no known fowl contact" cases start showing up, it's really time to start battening down the hatches and preparing for the worst.

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About me

  • I'm Tara C. Smith
  • From Iowa, United States
  • I'm a mom and a scientist, your basic stressed-out, wanna-have-it-all-and-do-it-all Gen Xer. Recently transplanted from Ohio to Iowa, I've spent most of my life in the midwest (with 4 years of college spent out east in "soda" territory). My main interest, and the subject of my research, is infectious disease: how does the microbe cause illness? What makes one strain nasty, and another "avirulent?" Are the latter really not causing any disease, or could some of those be possible for the development of chronic disease years down the road? Additionally, I've spent a lot of time discussing the value of teaching evolution, and educating others about "intelligent design" and other forms of creationism. My interest in history of science and medicine is also useful as a way to tie all of the above interests together. [Disclaimer: the views here are solely my own, and do not represent my employer, my spouse, that guy who's always sitting by the fountain when I come into work, or anyone else with whom I may be remotely affiliated.]
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