Bird flu spreads quickly, Vietnam

Vietnam: Pham Van Dong – head of the Animal Health Department, reported the A/H5N1 epidemic has been confirmed in Nam Dinh and Lao Cai provinces in the north, Quang Ngai, Kon Tum, Dak Lak, Khanh Hoa and Phu Yen provinces in the central and Central Highland regions, and Long An, Tay Ninh, Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Ca Mau provinces in the south.
A total of 23,819 poultry were infected with the deadly virus and nearly 31,000 poultry were culled, Dong said.

A local resident in Binh Phuoc province and another in Dong Thap province contracted the virus and died in January.

Although Vietnam has reported no A/H7N9 cases, it is facing a high risk of the viral infection, as China, its neighbour, has confirmed more than 200 cases, including 20 deaths, since the beginning of this year.

China’s Guangxi province which borders four Vietnamese provinces, has also reported first cases of A/H7N9.

Health officials warned there is a strong possibility that the new strain of avian influenza will enter Vietnam unless illegal trade and transport of poultry of unknown origin across the border are brought under control.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat quoted initial surveys as saying currently six out of 100 ducks have tested positive for the bird flu virus, and 61 out of 100 markets have reported viral infections.

He said the ministry still has 35 million doses of the vaccine, but asked localities to be careful about using them when the disease has still not reached its peak.

Addressing the event, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai noted the disease is spreading and showing no signs of abating.

“As bird flu has reached danger alert status and is threatening the community’s safety, all ministries, sectors, and localities must focus on measures to control the disease’s outbreak, prevent it from taking root locally, and stamp it out in case of an epidemic,” he said.

He asked all localities to issue an action plan in February, keep a close watch on the situation and enhance the control and management of poultry trade across the border.

Police, military and market watch forces must keep a tight rein on poultry transport and ensure poultry markets are sterilised and disinfected regularly, Hai said.
A month -long campaign of hygiene, sterilisation and disinfection will be launched on February 22.

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