Stockpile Centre of Protection Opens in Thailand

THAILAND - A regional centre the size of a football field has opened in Thailand, equipped with a stockpile of protective equipment, decontamination kits and laboratory equipment, big enough to protect tens of thousands Southeast Asian citizens against the threat of Bird Flu.
calendar icon 28 March 2008
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This is the first of three regional centers, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), that are being planned worldwide. The depots will ensure a rapid response to any outbreaks of the deadly H5N1 virus, commonly called 'bird flu' because it strikes animals, particularly poultry. Millions of chickens and ducks have been wiped out despite billions of poultry vaccinations and culling of hundreds of millions of more birds. USAID spent nearly $550,000 stocking the Bangkok depot.

Avian influenza remains a major threat along the Mekong River - a massive territory snaking from Burma, dividing Laos, Thailand and Cambodia and terminating in southern Vietnam - while outbreaks occur throughout the region as well, increasing the risk the virus might mutate and attack humans, according to Dr. John MacArthur, USAID's infectious diseases advisor. Still, people are rarely infected. Worldwide, the H5N1 virus has been confirmed in more than 330 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Flu pandemics routinely occur about every 35 years according to the CDC. However, with today's rapid transportation, a pandemic would spread faster than ever before and cause between four and 40 million deaths, claims the U.N.'s World Health Organization.

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