Thailand launches anti-bird flu campaign in schools

BANGKOK (AFP) - Thailand is launching a campaign across its 40,000 schools to teach children how to avoid bird flu, the government said.

Posters and pamphlets will promote frequent hand washing, early reporting of sick or dead birds, and safe poultry-cooking practices, organizers said Friday.

"The majority of those affected by bird flu are children under the age of 18 who contract it from playing with chickens," said Mark Thomas, a spokesman for
UNICEF, which organized the campaign with the education ministry.

As part of the campaign, teachers will be given a new curriculum to educate children about bird flu, and 300,000 bars of soap will be sent to elementary schools.

The organizers hope the lessons the children learn will spread to the families and communities they live in.

Thailand is among the countries hardest hit by the deadly H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus, recording 25 human cases, 17 of them fatal, since the outbreak began here in 2004. 11 of the deaths have been children under the age of 18.

Almost all cases of the deadly H5N1 infection in humans have been linked to close contact with sick or dead birds, according to UNICEF.

The most recent fatality announced in Thailand was a 59-year-old farmer who died in August after touching dead chickens with his bare hands.


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