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Thai provincial livestock chief transferred as a boy died of bird flu
27/7/2006 10:01

Thailand's caretaker Agriculture Minister Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan ordered a transfer of Pichit Province's chief livestock officer yesterday, criticizing him of failing to report situation of bird flu disease to the ministry.

The transfer was issued after Sudarat and caretaker Public Health Minister Pinit Jarusombat visited the province after a teenage was confirmed to have died from the avian disease.

Pracha Assavametha, the chief livestock officer of Pichit, was transferred to the ministry on Wednesday as he failed to prevent the spreading of the disease in the province and failed to report the situation to the minister, local newspaper the Nation said.

However, Pracha said he usually reported the situation of mysterious deaths of birds and chickens to the ministry and the minister.

Earlier Wednesday, caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said the 16-year-old boy from Phichit had died of bird flu, making him the country's first casualty from the virus in over seven months.

Thaksin said the boy caught the virus from one of his fighting cocks in northern Thailand.

"The 16-year-old boy did not report the death of his fighting cock because he was afraid that authorities would slaughter his birds," Thaksin said. "But it's too late, he died of bird flu after touching the dead bird that had been sick."

Thai authorities Tuesday confirmed a new outbreak of the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus in Pichit, but the boy was not living on the farm where the disease was found.

Thawat Suntrajarn, chief of Pichit's disease control department, said the victim suffered from a deadly combination of dengue fever and bird flu, which he said was common in people who die from the H5N1 strain of the virus.

The boy died in hospital, one week after first visiting a doctor, Thawat said.

Health experts fear the H5N1 strain could mutate into a form that is transmitted more easily between humans.

Xinhua News