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Vehicles sprayed to stop bird flu on Laos-Thai Friendship Bridge
Publication Date : 03-12-2013
Every vehicle that crosses the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge on its way to Vientiane will be sprayed with disinfectant to guard against the spread of avian influenza.
Authorities said an outbreak of the virus, better known simply as "bird flu", would be financially crippling for Laos, which is still in the early stages of development.
“It's so difficult to control the outbreak of flu if it occurs,” an official said.
The Vientiane Agriculture and Forestry Department announced on November 1 it would continue spraying all vehicles crossing the bridge to come into Laos.
Bird flu experts from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry's Livestock and Fishery Department said spraying vehicles has been proven as an effective way to eradicate the disease.
The Thai side of the bridge does not conduct spraying. On the Lao side, all vehicles must pass through a checkpoint staffed by officials in protective clothing.
Bridge authorities have received complaints from members of the public who see the spraying as unnecessary given there is no outbreak at the moment.
While there has been no outbreak in Laos this year, some neighbouring countries have reported bird deaths as a result of the virus.
Vientiane residents purchase many goods and poultry products from Thailand that come over the bridge and Thailand has experienced outbreaks in the past. Laos has previously had outbreaks
in Vientiane, Savannakhet, Champassak and Luang Namtha provinces as well as in the capital. People died from becoming infected and thousands of birds were culled.
The spread of the disease was suppressed and there have since been no more outbreaks in Laos.
The possibility of bird flu morphing into a virus transmissible between humans is of major concern.
Health officials said even though Laos is not experiencing an outbreak at present people should protect themselves from the disease by washing their hands and avoiding eating chickens or ducks that have fallen sick and died.
Chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys must be cooked at or above 70C to kill poultry diseases, bacteria and viruses. The meat must be thoroughly cooked through so that none remains raw and red.