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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 September 2006, 04:29 GMT 05:29 UK
Thailand reports bird flu death
Market in Bangkok, July 2006
Thailand is one of the world's largest chicken exporters
A 59-year-old farmer has died of bird flu in north-eastern Thailand, the third person to die of the disease this year, health officials say.

The man died on 10 August near the Lao border, according to Kumnuan Ungchusak, a senior health ministry official.

He was believed to have been in contact with sick chickens shortly before he became ill.

Mr Kumnuan said final laboratory tests to determine the cause of death were only completed last week.

Thailand is one of the countries hardest hit by the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus, recording 17 fatalities since 2004.

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It was initially criticised for being slow to respond to the disease, but it is now considered to be one of the countries best prepared to combat the virus.

Global problem

Globally, more than 130 people have died of bird flu since late 2003. Most have been in East Asia, with Indonesia registering more human deaths than any other nation.

But the virus has also spread to Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Millions of birds across the world have died or been culled because of the disease.

At the moment, the virus is essentially confined to birds and remains hard for people to catch.

But there is a fear that it could mutate to a form which is easily passed from human to human, triggering a pandemic and potentially putting millions of people's lives at risk.




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