Thailand is centrally located relative to the Avian Influenza epidemic and her response to the disease has important implications for disease control efforts both regionally and globally. A middle income country with a large and economically significant export oriented poultry sector, Thailand has made protection of the broiler industry and preservation of international market access the primary focus of her response. At the same time, policy-makers have needed to assuage small-scale poultry producers, including cockfighting enthusiasts, who have borne the brunt of movement controls and stricter biosecurity standards.
Consequently, the government has re-evaluated its absolute ban on livestock vaccination and implemented innovative strategies such as “bird passports” to reduce the burden of compliance on small producers. Another significant dimension of the Thai epidemic is the recent emergence of open-grazing duck production, which may have provided a reservoir and vector for the H5N1 virus. Niche producers, including duck farmers, carry increasing weight in political and economic spheres in Thailand. Finally, the Thai public health community has advocated for more aggressive measures to prevent additional animal-to-human transmission of disease.The human health dimensions of the Avian Influenza epidemic have ultimately strengthened Thailand’s position in the international health debate and resulted in increased funding for infrastructure development and capacity-building.