Use of bird flu vaccine considered

(TNA) - A committee of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives committee is reviewing the pros and cons of using bird flu vaccines to innoculate Thai poultry against possible contagion, and should recommend whether or not to use the vaccine approach by late January.

The ministry will soon decide whether or not to allow bird flu vaccine to immunise poultry against the H5N1 virus within two months, according to Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Thira Sutabutr.

Mr Thira said that he assigned Yukol Limlamthong, director-general of the Department of Livestock Development, as chairman of the vaccination review committee, to research and prepare guidelines on using the vaccine.

The committee will consider the implications, positive and negative, of using available avian influenza vaccine by analysing scientific research reports and case studies of vaccinations being applied in other countries.

It is expected that the committee report its findings by the end of January, he added. The committee will also recommend guidelines on how to use the vaccine safely and efficiently.

The ministry committee will also discuss alternative methods to combat avian flu--such as adopting closed farming systems and bio-security measures to contain the spread of the virus.

An effective bird flu vaccine has only recently been developed and improved, he said.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) allowed any country severely hit by the outbreak to use the bird flu vaccine to contain the disease.

Although Thailand has succeeded, so far, in fighting the disease, the committee will also review negative effects of using the vaccine--as well as the possibility that mutation of the H5N1 virus before the decision to use a vaccine is made.

In winter, migrating birds from further north are heading south and the lower temperatures in Thailand provide suitable living conditions for the H5N1 virus.

As a result, anti-bird flu measures are needed to prevent any outbreaks, according to the ministry.


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