Vietnam plans human trials of bird-flu vaccine

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Hanoi – A Vietnamese pharmaceuticals company is to begin testing an avian influenza vaccine in humans this week, the company’s director confirmed Tuesday. Nguyen Thu Van – director of Vabiotech, a subsidiary of Vietnam’s National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology – said human trials would begin later this week and run for eight months.

Vabiotech has contracted Vietnam’s Military Medical Institute to conduct the trials, the first in Vietnam for a human bird-flu vaccine. If they prove successful, mass production of the vaccine could begin in late 2009 for domestic consumption.

“It’s very important to test the vaccine on humans and to produce it,” Van said. “The fatality rate among people infected with bird flu is very high.”

Bird flu has infected 106 people in Vietnam, killing 52, since it first appeared in the country in late 2003. The latest fatality, an 11-year-old boy, occurred Friday.

Other countries have tested bird-flu vaccines in humans but have not brought them to the production stage.

Van said the Vietnamese vaccine had been tested on animals in 2005 and 2007 with good results.

A representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) said that because the Vietnamese vaccine was intended only for domestic consumption, international authorities would not be involved in supervising the trials.

In 2005, the WHO objected to Vietnam’s announcement that it was developing a human vaccine. At the time, the Vietnamese were using monkey kidneys to incubate the virus for the vaccine, a technique that is not favored in modern research.

H5N1 – the strain of bird flu that has infected 372 people in Asia and Africa and killed 235, according to WHO statistics – mainly affects poultry and wild birds but can infect people who have close contact with sick fowl. Scientists fear that the disease could eventually mutate into a form that could be transmitted between humans, leading to a worldwide pandemic that could kill millions.

Bird flu kills four civets in Vietnam national park

 http://www.reuters.com/article/africaCrisis/idUSHAN217582

HANOI, March 11 (Reuters) – Bird flu killed four civets in a Vietnamese national park, the second time the rare type of mammal was reported to have died there of the H5N1 virus since 2005, a park official said on Tuesday.

Four endangered Owston’s palm civets died early last month at Cuc Phuong park and tests of their samples found they had the H5N1 virus, the official said.

“Visitors are not allowed to come near the civet’s area now,” the official said by telephone from the park about 90 km (55 miles) south of Hanoi in Ninh Binh province.

In June 2005 three civets, born in captivity and raised in the same cage, died at the park and tests later confirmed they had been infected by bird flu, park officials said. The park has eight of the rare cat-like civets left.

Civets eat pork, worms and fruit, but not poultry.

However, Ninh Binh is one of nine locations where outbreaks have been detected among poultry in the past month, including a farm outside Hanoi, the Animal Health Department said.

It is not the first time that bird flu has killed exotic animals. The H5N1 virus has infected ostriches in South Africa, a clouded leopard and tigers in Thailand.

One of China’s top doctors has said that the H5N1 virus has shown signs of mutation and can kill humans more easily if treatment is not given early enough, newspapers reported on Tuesday [ID:nHKG228879].

The H5N1 virus has infected 368 people around the world since 2003, killing 234 of them, including 51 in Vietnam.

Experts fear it could trigger a pandemic killing millions if it ever transmits efficiently among people. (Reporting by Ho Binh Minh; editing by Grant McCool and Sanjeev Miglani)

Vietnam on high bird flu alert after new poultry outbreaks: govt

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HANOI (AFP) — Vietnam is on high alert over bird flu after the virus killed thousands of birds in three provinces, having claimed its third human victim of the year last week, the communist government said Wednesday.

The north of Vietnam has been in the grip of a cold snap that has lasted for over a month, bringing rare ice and snow to mountain tops, killing crops and livestock and heightening the risk of flu and other respiratory diseases.

The latest bird flu outbreaks killed nearly 2,500 unvaccinated chicken, ducks and geese in the northern Hai Duong, Nam Dinh and Tuyen Quang provinces, the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry said in an online report.

Seven of Vietnam’s 64 provinces and municipalities are now on the bird flu watchlist after reporting poultry cases in the past 21 days — also including northern Thai Nguyen and Quang Ninh, central Quang Binh and southern Long An.

“We will go on nationwide red alert on the risk of bird flu over the next few days,” Bui Ba Bong, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, was quoted as telling the Thanh Nien daily newspaper.

“Preventing and fighting H5N1 outbreaks in poultry is extremely urgent and important in preventing and curbing H5N1 outbreaks among humans,” he said, pointing to four human deaths since late December.

Bird flu killed a 27-year-old man from northern Ninh Binh province on February 14 — raising the national death toll from the virus to 50 — having earlier this year claimed the lives of two other men aged 40 and 32.

All of the victims had handled infected poultry, officials said.

The World Health Organisation has so far confirmed 361 human cases of H5N1 bird flu worldwide, of which 227 have died, not including Vietnam’s latest case.

The virus is mainly an animal disease, but scientists fear it could mutate to easily jump from human to human, sparking a deadly global pandemic.

Dead poultry raises bird flu alarm in Vietnam

http://www.reuters.com/article/europeCrisis/idUSHAN65559

HANOI, Feb 19 (Reuters) – Dead poultry have been found in rivers and streams in northern Vietnam, a sign of a possible new bird flu outbreak during a prolonged cold spell, officials said on Tuesday.

The Agriculture Ministry said in a report that callers to an animal health department hotline reported large numbers of dead birds in five provinces, but was not specific.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu killed three men in northern Vietnam between Jan. 18 and Feb. 14 during a record-long cold spell. The H5N1 virus seems to thrive best in cool temperatures.

“In recent days the Animal Health Department has received many reports about poultry dying in large numbers in provinces,” the Agriculture Ministry-run department said in a report on its Web site (www.dah.gov.vn).

“A bird flu outbreak is forecast to emerge in the northern region when cold days extend,” it said.

The department, in a separate report, said that bird flu has killed nearly 2,500 ducks and chickens in the northern provinces of Hai Duong, Nam Dinh and Tuyen Quang, bringing to seven the provinces on the government’s bird flu watchlist.

Animal health workers have slaughtered the remaining 1,900 birds at the three infected farms.

Doctors confirmed at the weekend that a 7-year-old child from the northern province of Hai Duong had the virus. The child has been under treatment in Hanoi along with several suspected cases.

Bird flu has killed 50 people in Vietnam out of 106 infected cases since late 2003, the Health Ministry said.

Officials said they have not been able to control poultry smuggling from northern neighbour China, which reported its latest human death on Monday, bringing its toll to 18.

H5N1 remains mainly a virus of birds, but experts fear it could mutate into a form easily transmitted from person to person and sweep the world, possibly killing millions.

The virus is known to have killed 227 people globally since late 2003, according to the World Health Organisation, not including the latest death in China and two cases in Indonesia in recent days. (Reporting by Ho Binh Minh; Editing by Grant McCool and David Fogarty)

Bird flu kills one, infects another in Vietnam

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HANOI, Feb 14 (Reuters) – Bird flu has killed a 40-year-old Vietnamese man and infected another after both came in contact with infected chickens, state media said on Thursday.

The man died in a Hanoi hospital on Wednesday four days after being treated for lung and kidney failure, the Liberation Saigon newspaper quoted the hospital’s deputy director, Nguyen Hong Ha, as saying.

The Health Ministry said tests confirmed the man from the northern province of Hai Duong, 50 km (31 miles) southeast of Hanoi, had the H5N1 strain of the virus.

It was Vietnam’s second death from avian influenza this year and brought the country’s toll from bird flu to 49.

Health officials have been monitoring the man’s relatives since last week after he and his family ate two chickens that had died from unknown causes. Dead chickens have also been reported in the neighbourhood.

Doctors also confirmed another 27-year-old man had been infected by the H5N1 virus and was now in critical condition, state-run Vietnam Television said in its evening news bulletin.

The Health Ministry said the man from the northern province of Ninh Binh slaughtered two sick chickens on Jan. 31 and fell ill two days later with pneumonia symptoms. He was taken to Bach Mai hospital in Hanoi on Tuesday.

The patient, Vietnam’s third human bird flu case this year, was now on a respirator, the television footage showed. Last month, bird flu killed a 32-year-old man in the northern province of Tuyen Quang.

H5N1 remains mainly a virus of birds, but experts fear it could mutate into a form easily transmitted from person to person and sweep the world, possibly killing millions.

Not including the latest death, the H5N1 virus has killed 226 people among the 360 known cases. Most of the deaths are in Indonesia, followed by Vietnam, World Health Organization figures show.

Bird flu hits Vietnam poultry, may have killed a man

http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSHAN286150

HANOI, Jan 22 (Reuters) – Bird flu may have killed a 32-year-old Vietnamese man in a northern province where the virus has been found in poultry, state-run media and a government report said on Tuesday.

The man died at a Hanoi hospital of pneumonia earlier this month, two days after he had been taken in from Tuyen Quang province, the hospital’s deputy director Nguyen Hong Ha was quoted by the online VTC News newspaper (www.vtc.vn) as saying.

The man fell ill on Jan. 16 after eating chicken which had died of unknown cause. Dead chicken and white-winged ducks were also found near his house, the newspaper quoted a relative as saying.

Vietnamese doctors were testing to see if the man had been infected by the H5N1 virus.

The H5N1 virus remains mainly a virus of birds, but experts fear it could mutate into a form easily transmitted from person to person and sweep the world, killing millions.

In a separate report, the Animal Health Department said tests have confirmed that bird flu has infected poultry in Tuyen Quang province.

It said chickens and white-winged ducks died at a farm in the province early this month and health officials took samples from 11 birds on Jan 17. for bird flu tests. They found three of the 11 samples carried the H5N1 virus, the department said.

The finding meant Tuyen Quang joined the northern province of Thai Nguyen and the southern province of Tra Vinh in the government’s bird flu watchlist which reported the last outbreak among poultry less than 21 days ago.

Vietnam reported its latest human death from bird flu last month when the virus killed a four-year-old boy.

The H5N1 virus has killed five out of the eight Vietnamese who have caught it last year, taking the country’s death toll since late 2003 to 47.

Globally, the H5N1 virus has killed 219 people out of 351 known cases and most of the deaths are in Indonesia, followed by Vietnam, World Health Organisation figures show. Hundreds of millions of birds have died or been slaughtered. (Reporting by Ho Binh Minh)

Vietnam suspects bird flu killed young child

 http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSHAN292148

HANOI, Dec 26 (Reuters) – Doctors suspect bird flu may have killed a four-year-old child in northern Vietnam, state-run radio said on Wednesday.

A Health Ministry official told a government meeting on Tuesday the child had a fever and serious pneumonia after eating chicken which died of unknown cause in the mountainous province of Son La, the Voice of Vietnam radio said.

It said the child died in a hospital in Hanoi but gave no gender. Doctors were testing to see if the H5N1 bird flu virus was the killer, the ministry official was quoted as saying.

Vietnam last reported outbreaks among poultry in October, but Son La was not on the government’s bird flu watchlist.

The H5N1 virus killed four of the seven Vietnamese who have caught it this year, taking the country’s death toll since late 2003 to 46. The last death was reported in August.

Health officials had worried that winter in northern Vietnam might trigger a new wave of outbreaks among poultry as the virus seems to thrive best in cool temperature.

The Agriculture Ministry said 63 of Vietnam’s 64 provinces had been vaccinating birds against the virus this year.

The H5N1 virus remains mainly a virus of birds, but experts fear it could mutate into a form easily transmitted from person to person and sweep the world, killing millions.

Globally, the H5N1 virus has killed 209 people out of 340 known cases and most of the deaths are in Indonesia, followed by Vietnam, World Health Organisation figures show. Hundreds of millions of birds have died or been slaughtered. (Reporting by Ho Binh Minh; Editing by Michael Battye and Sanjeev Miglani)