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Dr. Thongchai Keeratihatthayakorn Addresses Influenza Concerns in Thailand: 2023 Flu Season Insights

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People eagerly lined up to receive their flu vaccinations at the bustling Government Complex on Chaeng Watthana Road, a scene captured in an image from the Bangkok Post. Since the dawn of this year, influenza has claimed 14 lives and infected over 180,000 individuals across the nation, as reported by the Department of Disease Control (DDC).

On a recent Saturday, Director-General Dr. Thongchai Keeratihatthayakorn stepped forward to dispel widespread fears about severe flu strains. He reassured the public, emphasizing that influenza is a respiratory viral infection typically presenting with mild symptoms, which can be managed with appropriate treatment. However, he did caution that in some cases, patients could develop additional illnesses, increasing the risk of fatal outcomes.

Dr. Thongchai shared that a specialized team from the Disease Control Office 5 in Ratchaburi has been collaborating with local public health offices to conduct an in-depth analysis of the flu patients. This comprehensive report is anticipated to be released the following week.

According to data from the Epidemiology Division, spanning from January 1 to June 20, the country recorded 186,900 flu cases accompanied by 14 tragic fatalities. Among these, Nakhon Ratchasima reported five deaths, Nakhon Si Thammarat witnessed two, and one fatality each was reported in Chaiyaphum, Surat Thani, Bangkok, Sukhothai, Samut Prakan, Phuket, and Kalasin.

Surveillance figures encompassing influenza and other respiratory viruses from September 1, 2021, to June 16, highlight interesting trends. Out of 2,284 identified influenza cases, 1,044 were of the A/H3N2 strain. Detailed analysis revealed the following distribution: A/H3N2 accounted for 45% of cases, B/H3N2 comprised 27%, A/H1N1 filled 26%, and a mysterious A subtype with an unidentified strain made up 1%.

Though Dr. Thongchai acknowledged that influenza remains an endemic illness, he warned that it could exacerbate pre-existing conditions. Influenza can intensify intercurrent illnesses such as pneumonia, asthma, encephalitis, and various bacterial infections.

In summary, while flu seasons come and go, it’s crucial to remain vigilant and informed. Keeping up with vaccinations, understanding the risks, and adhering to public health guidelines can help mitigate the impact of influenza on our health and communities. Stay safe, and let’s all do our part in staying informed and protected!


  1. Maria F. June 22, 2024

    Getting vaccinated is important, but why didn’t they act sooner? The deaths could have been reduced!

    • JohnDoe June 22, 2024

      Blaming the health system won’t solve anything. People need to take personal responsibility too.

      • Anna June 22, 2024

        But JohnDoe, isn’t the system supposed to protect us? Some people can’t get vaccinated due to medical issues.

      • Maria F. June 22, 2024

        Exactly, Anna. Public health measures need to be timely and inclusive for everyone.

      • science_guy June 22, 2024

        Let’s also consider vaccine hesitancy. Education is key to improving vaccination rates.

  2. Alex K. June 22, 2024

    Is 14 deaths out of 180,000 infections really a significant number to worry about?

    • Nora J. June 22, 2024

      Every life counts, Alex. Imagine if it was your family member.

    • Dr. Sam June 22, 2024

      From a statistical perspective, it’s low, but public health isn’t just about numbers. Vulnerable populations need protection.

    • Sara June 22, 2024

      True, Dr. Sam. Preventing deaths even in small numbers matters.

  3. health_enthusiast June 22, 2024

    Why don’t we focus more on natural immunity rather than over-relying on vaccines?

    • Dr. Lee June 22, 2024

      A balanced approach is best. Vaccines boost immunity without the risks of severe illness.

    • Dave R. June 22, 2024

      Natural immunity can be great but not everyone develops it equally. Vaccines ensure broader protection.

  4. John June 22, 2024

    I think the government should provide free vaccines to everyone, not just make them available.

    • Liam June 22, 2024

      That sounds good, but who’s going to pay for it?

    • Tina B. June 22, 2024

      Better health means fewer expenses in the long run. An investment in vaccines is worth it.

  5. Rachel June 22, 2024

    Why are flu deaths even happening in this day and age? Surely we have the technology to prevent this.

    • Pat June 22, 2024

      We do, but not everyone follows prevention methods. Plus, flu viruses mutate.

    • Mario June 23, 2024

      Rachel, it’s also about how quickly new strains are identified and vaccines are updated.

  6. Sophie June 22, 2024

    The government overreacts every flu season. It’s just the flu.

  7. botanist_77 June 22, 2024

    Does anyone know how these statistics compare internationally? Are other countries seeing similar trends?

    • Dr. Ahmed June 23, 2024

      Yes, influenza trends can vary, but globally, they face similar challenges. Public health responses are key.

    • global_thinker June 23, 2024

      Depends on healthcare infrastructure and public adherence to guidelines. Some countries fare better.

  8. GreenTeaLover June 23, 2024

    Hope they release the report soon. Data transparency is crucial for trust in the public health system.

    • Kate W. June 23, 2024

      Agreed! Transparency builds trust and helps people make informed decisions.

    • DanielSmith June 23, 2024

      Transparency is good, but it needs to be coupled with clear communication. Misinterpretation of data can cause panic.

  9. biology_nut June 23, 2024

    Interesting that a mysterious A subtype was found. Could this be a new flu strain that we need to worry about?

    • Dr. Kim June 23, 2024

      Unidentified strains are always under observation. Constant vigilance in virology is necessary to manage new threats.

    • tech_guru June 23, 2024

      Advancements in genetic sequencing should help with rapid identification and response to new strains.

  10. Patricia June 23, 2024

    I got my flu shot last week, but I’m still worried about getting sick.

    • NurseAmy June 23, 2024

      Don’t worry too much, Patricia. The flu shot reduces your chances of severe illness. Just keep good hygiene practices.

    • Paul June 23, 2024

      Yes, and even if you get the flu, your symptoms should be milder due to the vaccine.

  11. Joy June 23, 2024

    I think the widespread fear around influenza is a bit overblown. We need to focus on bigger health threats.

  12. Marie L. June 23, 2024

    What are they doing to support those who have already been infected?

    • public_health_worker June 23, 2024

      Patients are receiving medical attention tailored to their conditions, but post-infection care often depends on severity.

    • Nico June 23, 2024

      Follow-up and rehabilitation support are especially crucial for severe cases.

  13. Travis June 23, 2024

    Maybe if we had better public awareness campaigns, more people would get vaccinated on time.

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