Thailand on High Alert for Anthrax Following Outbreak in Laos

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Thailand on High Alert for Anthrax Following Outbreak in Laos
Cows eating (photo: Vientiane Times)

Thailand has heightened its vigilance against anthrax as Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, on 28 March, directed Thai Public Health Minister Cholnan Srikaew to intensify preventive measures, especially in border areas, to safeguard public health.

The Thai government’s proactive stance follows reports of an anthrax outbreak in Laos that has affected at least 54 individuals and resulted in several cattle deaths this month. Anthrax, caused by the Bacillus anthracis bacteria, is highly contagious among animals and can also be transmitted to humans through inhaling the virus spores, consuming food or drinking water that is contaminated with spores, and entry of spores into a cut or a scrape in the skin. 

Srettha expressed appreciation to the various agencies involved in ensuring the well-being of the Thai populace. The Ministry of Public Health, working through its Department of Disease Control, has collaborated with local authorities to enhance surveillance of the disease, particularly along border regions.

In response, authorities have urged residents to promptly report any instances of cows or buffaloes displaying abnormal symptoms or dying unexpectedly. They also advise against handling carcasses or consuming their meat. Individuals who have had contact with sick animals and experience unusual symptoms should seek medical attention.

According to government spokesperson Chai Wacharonke, Thailand has not recorded any cases of anthrax since 2001. However, given the recent outbreak in Laos, authorities are taking proactive measures to prevent the spread of the disease within Thailand’s borders.

As Thailand maintains vigilance, the government stresses the importance of early detection and reporting of suspected cases. Collaborating with the public, health authorities aim to mitigate the risk of an anthrax outbreak and ensure the continued health and safety of the population.

Meanwhile, local officials and health authorities in Laos are urging residents in Champasack Province to cooperate with relevant agencies to investigate infection sources, gather crucial information, isolate affected areas, and cull infected livestock.

To prevent anthrax spread, high-risk zones will be cordoned off, and specific abattoirs are prohibited from slaughtering cattle and buffalo.

The Lao Ministry of Health’s Department of Communicable Diseases Control emphasized that killing sick animals without understanding the cause could spread pathogens in local communities.