The Thai News Agency reported that the Health Ministry would seek help from pharmacies in order to screen patients with suspected bird flu. Caretaker Public Health Minister Pinij Charusombat said that the current scheme in which the ministry's hospitals and health workers screen patients might not cover workers who buy drugs at pharmacies.
"Pharmacists at the drugstores must ask for details about each patient who buys drugs. If they are found to have contacted sick or dead poultry or live in areas where a large number of fowls died of unknown causes, the pharmacists will recommend the patients to meet the doctor immediately," he said. He also added that the drugstores were in a good position to help out since many unwell people self-prescribe.
"A lot of people catch the flu from the change of weather. Meanwhile, there is a seasonal outbreak of dengue fever. The symptoms of influenza, dengue fever, and bird flu are similar," Pinij said, "so the authorities have to implement strict measures to monitor the bird flu epidemic."
He added that one of the main reasons for an increase in number of patients in bird flu was the advent of rainy season.