Published: Monday 31 March 1997

A health ministry official in Bangkok said recently that anthrax-hit Thailand will closely monitor a similar outbreak of the disease in Australia before banning the entry of beef and dairy imports from Down Under. However, most anthrax cases in Thailand were found in illegal slaughter houses where the people killed the animals and distributed the meat among their community and not for the market," said the official. Anthrax is an infectious disease affecting cattle and sheep, which in turn infect humans causing skin infection, diarrhoea and fever and is considered fatal if it infects the brain.

In Thailand, four cows died early February, after anthrax broke out among cattle in Bangkok and in Sukhothai province - about 450 km north of the capital. At least 19 people fell ill after consuming diseased meat, informed livestock and health ministry officials. Close on the heels of this, there was an outbreak of catlle anthrax in mid-February in the southern Australian state of Victoria. Australia accounts than 40 per cent of the total meat import of Thailand.

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