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Monday, April 18, 2011

Thailand : Mystery of British couple's 'toxic seaweed' death in Chiang Mai

Via The Independent :

" Questions raised about safety of Thai city following spate of heart attacks officially blamed on virus

The mysterious deaths of up to seven tourists in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai have baffled the authorities, casting doubts over the safety of the popular holiday destination.

A British couple, a 23-year-old New Zealander, and a Thai tour guide all died within 16 days in adjoining rooms at the three-star Downtown Inn in February. All four are believed to have died in remarkably similar circumstances, while three other cases have been speculatively linked to the phenomenon after displaying similar symptoms. Thai health authorities have blamed "toxic seaweed" for the deaths, but amid calls for a fresh investigation, one expert said that food poisoning was unlikely to be the cause.

Thai police have ruled out foul play and said there was no evidence that the deaths were linked. Health authorities said at least two were probably caused by food poisoning. The Governor of Chiang Mai, Panadda Disakul, said they were nothing more than a coincidence, according to news reports.

But David Mabey, professor of communicable diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that if the cases were a coincidence they would be a "remarkable" one. He described the deaths as "absolutely extraordinary" and said that food poisoning would "certainly not" be one of the first possible causes to spring to mind."

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