Cholera research in Thailand and Laos PDR

Cholera continues to be a major health problem in Asian countries including Thailand and Laos People's Democratic Republic (PDR). Though the infection is usually mild, some patients have severe reactions that lead to dehydration, shock, and sometimes death. In Thailand and Laos PDR little is known about the prevalence of laboratory confirmed cholera. 

In April 2010 IANPHI approved a $60,000 (USD) grant to support a two-year collaborative research project between Thailand National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Center for Laboratory and Epidemiology (NCLE), in Vientiane, Laos PDR. The research activities will be focused on laboratory surveillance and molecular characterization of V. cholera (cholera). 

The project will strengthen laboratory capacity in both countries in order to determine the prevalence of cholera in severe diarrhea patients throughout various provinces of Thailand and Laos PDR. Additionally, research will be conducted to determine the virulence-associated genes of cholera with the goal to better shape and support cholera prevention programs and control policies. 

The Thai NIH, an IANPHI member institute of public health, is located within the Department of Medical Sciences and employs approximately 400 permanent staff and 200 project-based staff. It is composed of scientific groups including bacteriology, virology, mycology, parasitology, toxicology, medical entomology, hematology and biochemistry. The mandate of the Thai NIH is to serve as the national reference laboratory and act as the research and development arm of the Thailand Ministry of Public Health. The Thai NIH houses the Southeast Asian Special Reference Laboratory for Polioviruses and Measles, the Thai NIC, the WHO collaborating center for antimicrobial resistance surveillance and other training and reference laboratories. In the event that complex testing is needed in Thailand, specimens are referred to the Thai NIH reference laboratories. In addition, the Thai NIH serves as the National Culture Collection, conducts diagnostic testing on samples generated by the surveillance system, and helps support laboratory training activities for in-country and neighboring countries. 

At the end of this project, the Thai NIH will have the laboratory capacity to identify and determine the prevalence of cholera in diarrheal patients. With that capacity, they will be able to play an active role in creating prevention strategies and cholera control policies in Thailand and also be a regional leader in the field. 

Learn more about Thailand’s NIH >>