Bird flu hits five provinces in Vietnam

Hanoi – An outbreak of the H5N1 avian flu virus has spread to four provinces in southern Vietnam and one in the centre of the country, a government official said Monday.

Hoang Van Nam, deputy head of Vietnam’s Animal Health Department, said thousands of fowl had been infected in the Mekong Delta provinces of Ca Mau, Bac Lieu, Soc Trang and Hau Giang.

A further outbreak was reported on a farm in the province of Nghe An in central Vietnam.

On one farm in Hau Giang province, 400 ducks found infected with the virus had not been vaccinated. Other cases involved ducks which had been vaccinated but contracted the disease before they had a chance to develop immunity.

Nam said despite government warnings, farmers were not strictly obeying regulations on preventing the spread of bird flu. He said some were throwing dead ducks in canals and rivers where their germs were likely to spread.

Vietnam Television reported Sunday that outside Hanoi on February 5, several dozen people resisted authorities who tried to destroy a truckload of live chickens that lacked quarantine certificates.

As animal health officials tossed the chickens into a pit, preparing to bury them, dozens of locals jumped into the hole and rushed away with the animals. Just 300 of the 1,500 chickens were destroyed.

Meanwhile, a doctor confirmed Monday Vietnam’s second human case of bird flu this year.

The 23-year-old woman has been hospitalized since February 3 at Quang Ninh general hospital, 150 kilometres west of Hanoi, after eating the meat of a sick chicken.

‘We are not sure if the patient can survive,’ said Dr Tran Thanh Nga, one of the doctors assigned to the case.

Vietnam’s first confirmed human case of bird flu this year was a 13-year-old girl from Thanh Hoa province, 150 kilometers south of Hanoi. The girl’s older sister died on January 2 after displaying symptoms consistent with bird flu, but was not tested for the virus.

Avian influenza has infected 106 people in Vietnam and killed 52 since it first appeared in the country in late 2003.

The disease is usually spread by contact between sick birds and humans, but scientists fear that the virus could mutate into a form that is easily transmissible among humans and spark a global pandemic that could kill millions.


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