Thailand in the News Week Ending 04/03/10

Red Shirts Giving Themselves Black Eye


Photo Courtesy AP

With two scheduled talks with the government last week not being particularly fruitful the Red shirts are still insistent that the Parliament be dissolved on their time schedule which gives the government just 15 days. Prime Minister Abhisit had offered a 9 month time frame in which new elections would be held but the Red shirts want none of that.

Meanwhile the Red protest continues to disrupt Bangkok and turn what was once supporters of their cause into an ever growing population of annoyed residents, businessmen and people who tend to rely on the tourist trade against them. The Red leaders for their part have promised to keep the protests ongoing until the Parliament is dissolved, translation; My toys, my pram, watch as I throw them out in my tantrum.

Thaksin, who plays no small part in this protest, has been in constant contact with Red protest leaders and has made sure to give his opinion to any media outlet that will listen to him. Weng Tojirakarn, a key leader of the red shirts, says the movement stands by its efforts to press the government to dissolve parliament.

We would like to show the government that in reality we have a huge number of people who support us.  So the government must change its mind, that is the government must dissolve the parliament as soon as possible – let’s for the sake of the government, but for my side we still have the government dissolve the parliament within 15 days

Weng also states that the protests will continue until such a time as Parliament is dissolved. As this saga draws on there is a much higher propensity for violence and as we have all seen before in Thailand it doesn’t take much to get the violence started. A bomb here, a large chunk of wood there and before you know it there is blood in the streets again.

Thailand’s history of politics is littered with coups and bloodshed.  Just because the most recent coup in 2006 was largely a peaceful event don’t believe for a second that things can’t get ugly here fast because if the past is any gauge to Thailand’s future then you can be assured of more of the same.

New Drug Resistant Strain of Malaria in Thailand

As the video above explains, a new strain of malaria in rural Thailand, specifically on the Thai-Myanmar border, is hitting rural Thai’s by the thousands and this new strain is a more aggressive and drug resistant.

For most people infected by malaria the treatment is successful. The problem that comes into play, especially in Thailand, is the 48 hour incubation period. If not treated in that time the disease becomes infinitely more easily transmitted to other people.

While Thailand has been at the forefront of battling malaria, border countries such as Myanmar and Cambodia have not been as successful and the parasite has run rampant through their countries. This has led to a new drug resistant strain showing up on the border and working it’s way into Thailand. The same drug resistant strain was found at the Thai- Cambodian border over 18 months ago.

The normal drug therapies for malaria usually destroy the parasite in the blood within 2 days while the new strain is taking considerably longer which in turn is making infection rates soar. Although malaria research is ever evolving there have been no new breakthroughs on the medicine front in decades.

While border clinics have their hands full they have made inroads in education about malaria and have stopped countless deaths. Before the clinics on the Myanmar border were set up malaria was the main cause of death in pregnant women where now all pregnant women survive the malaria parasite.

If visiting these regions or rural Thailand in general it is a very good idea to make sure you have gotten all the necessary shots and or therapies that the CDC recommends. Where you might get a bit of a sour stomach visiting Bangkok or Pattaya there are many parasites and diseases at play in the rural areas that can make for a memorable trip but for all the wrong reasons.

Please check out the CDC Information page for what is recommended before visiting Thailand.


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11 Responses to Thailand in the News Week Ending 04/03/10
  1. ChuckWow
    April 4, 2010 | 12:10 pm

    My wife’s younger brother got Dengue fever a few years back.

    He was instructed to stay indoors under Mosquito netting as the disease ran its course.

    This was to prevent Mosquito bites during the infectious stage so the disease would not be passed on to anyone else.

    I wonder if this precaution is part of the Malaria treatment as well ?

    • Talen
      April 4, 2010 | 1:09 pm

      Chuck, that is one of the prescribed measures to stop the spread of malaria as well. Especially with the drug resistant strain because the medicine takes so much longer to run its course and the infectious stage last longer.

  2. Martyn
    April 4, 2010 | 3:28 pm

    Two stories which must be worrying to a lot of people.

    The amataya and their families must be worried sick they can’t get to their luxury shopping venues to spend thousands of baht on a whim. I read last night that the son of a high profile politician (possibly former) crashed his Porsche into the motorbike of a red shirt. A meeting of two very different worlds.

    Sure the red shirts are causing massive disruption to Bangkok but didn’t the yellow shirts do that and more at Suvarnabhumi. Estimates of 500 million baht a day in lost revenue from shopping complexes and other businesses is bad news but sometimes you’ve got to stand your ground.

    I do hope the protests will not escalate into violence because that won’t help the red shirts cause but surely a rich Thai kid having to wear his shorts and shirt for a second time instead of his latest Central World wear is a small loss in comparison to the sacrifices many of the red shirts are making. The amataya and the working girls of Pattaya. I know the side I’d take.

    The new malaria strain is a worry and I wish I hadn’t read your CDC link because I don’t tend to take any kind of medical precautions. It’s too late to do anything about my forthcoming trip but your advice is sound for others near to theirs. I guess I’ll just chance life’s dice one more time.

    Excellent post and I do enjoy your weekly round up.

    • Talen
      April 4, 2010 | 5:25 pm

      Martyn, No, what the Red shirts are doing is no worse than what the Yellow shirts did…but that doesn’t seem a good enough reason to do it.

      Many believe in the Red shirt cause but to what end? They have given a new ultimatum of 15 days to dissolve Parliament…then what?

      They got their talks and the Prime minister was good for new elections…just not on the Red leaders terms.

      When 15 days pass the Parliament will still be there and the Red leaders will end up doing something stupid to show they mean business and the propensity for violence will go up ten fold.

      At least being on the side of Pattaya’s bar girls will have you nowhere near the action in Bangkok :)

      Malaria is definitely a concern but you should be able to get the malaria meds at your local hospital.

  3. Mike
    April 5, 2010 | 8:21 am

    Talen, two possible reasons to avoid Thailand?
    As far as the reds go I can see this dragging on to Songkran and possibly a repeat of last year in BKK. I also see no winners only losers in the form of the Thai people.

    As a long term resident I do not take anti-malarial drugs-expense and not good side effects over long period. That said we protect the house as best we can with netting, sprays and an electronic zapper.

    General consensus among the Thais I know (including a doctor) if you have flue like symptoms that persist go get a blood test. If Malaria or Dengue found they then zap parasite with antibiotics(can’t remember the name). A bit hit and miss in my opinion.

    I was trekking in a National Park yesterday near Myanmar border and the thought did cross my mind so I put on plenty of DEET to try and avoid bites. To be honest I worried more about snakes but didn’t see any so perhaps it deters snakes as well:-)
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhlaram Ratchaworamahawihan or Wat Pho Bangkok =-.

    • Talen
      April 6, 2010 | 11:47 am

      Mike, Deet does seem to do the trick and I always make sure I am well stocked when up North. Last trip I saw some of the biggest mosquito’s I have ever seen in my life. You are right though that the treatment is hit or miss but in a lot of cases it’s not even something most travelers are thinking about.

  4. Catherine
    April 5, 2010 | 5:40 pm

    Talen, A friend of mine get bitten quite often by mozzies. I used to get munched on years back but no more. It’s because I’ve learned the secret – sit by someone hot natured and the mozzies will go to them, leaving you be.

    The new strain is a worry though. I knew a guy in Pau (France) who caught malaria when in Borneo during the fighting years and years back. He was a journalist but had to slog it through mosquito covered terrain just like a regular soldier. His suffering was miserable.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Stuart (Stu) Jay Raj: Interview Part One =-.

  5. Boonsong
    April 6, 2010 | 11:26 am

    These mosquitoe born diseases are all too easy to catch and apparently now very difficult to treat. This is a worrying scenario

    • Talen
      April 6, 2010 | 11:50 am

      Boonsong, it can be worrying but then again crossing the street in Thailand is something to worry about as well. I would imagine that the chances are greater of getting hit by a car than getting malaria or other blood born diseases but it is always a good idea to keep in mind that they do exist.

  6. Elton
    April 6, 2010 | 3:10 pm

    You would think that bug spray would be a big business in places with Malaria.

    I asked a friend of mine who visited Thailand to train Muay Thai and the area he was is in he said they wasn’t really a problem with mosquitoes. Guess it depends where you are located.

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