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Tsunami raises bird flu concern

Public health experts worried about avian influenza amid tsunami chaos

Katherine Schlatter(kmschlatter@asiabioscience.com)

As Thailand's main disease tracking resources are diverted to deal with the aftermath of the tsunami disaster, flu experts have warned that avian influenza is again infecting humans in the region.

Scott Dowell, an epidemiologist from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has been embedded within the Thai Ministry of Public Health for several years, collaborating on projects involving human flu surveillance.

In the past 2 weeks, he has been working along side Thai health officials on mobilizing one of the largest humanitarian relief efforts in the country's history to meet the needs of tsunami survivors. In Thailand alone, an estimated 5300 people perished in the tsunami waves. Region-wide, at least 160,000 people were killed.

Dowell warns that another impending danger is not receiving much attention these days. He told The Scientist that right now there's a greater risk that a bird flu outbreak in humans could...

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