According to reports, a dead fighting cock from the Northern province of Phichit was identified as having the disease. The Thai agriculture ministry -- which poultry farmers and at least one senator have accused of covering up bird flu outbreaks at the beginning of the month -- confirmed today that the bird from the Ban Mun Nak district was infected, and Agriculture Minister Sudarat Keyuraphan also confirmed that the H5N1 strain had been confirmed in 20 blood samples from dead fighting birds from Phichit.
The birds were all reportedly imported, leading officials to ban the transport of birds and impose quarantine near the areas where the birds died.
This move may have come too late as the number of human cases in Thailand, currently confirmed to be 22 by WHO scientists, may rise soon due to a number of suspected cases that have cropped up.
Two sisters, aged 3 and 4, and three males -- aged 59, 86 and 7 -- have been hospitalized in Phichit with suspected bird flu symptoms along with an 11-year-old girl who was admitted after chickens died on her family's farm. Two men aged 35 and 67 were admitted to Uttaradit Provincial Hospital for bird-flu-like symptoms that occurred after they ate spotted doves, and three other Uttaradit province patients are suspected of having bird flu. A 5-year-old boy from Phitsanulok is also still under observation for the disease.
The setbacks come just 19 days after Sudarat announced that Thailand hoped to eradicate bird flu within three years.