Bird flu returns to Vietnam; outbreaks kill thousands of poultry

By VnExpress   February 21, 2017 | 09:59 am GMT+7
Bird flu returns to Vietnam; outbreaks kill thousands of poultry
Health officials take samples from a chicken sickened by bird flu in southern Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Thien Phuoc

Nearly 6,000 chickens have been killed or culled after four months of no reported cases.

Two bird flu outbreaks among poultry have emerged in Vietnam's central and southern regions, the animal health department said, warning the disease could spread to more areas.

Animal health officials culled around 2,800 birds after the H5N6 virus had been detected infecting the birds in the central province of Quang Ngai, the agriculture ministry-run department said in a statement posted Sunday. Quang Ngai is about three hours drive to the south of the popular tourist town of Hoi An.

Some 3,000 chickens infected by the H5N1 virus, another strain, have also been killed in the Mekong Delta province of Bac Lieu, the department said in another report. Bac Lieu is some 300 kilometers (190 miles) southwest of Ho Chi Minh City.

The outbreaks were the first reported in Vietnam four months after the country had successfully contained the disease in Ca Mau, Bac Lieu's southwestern neighbor. A place is considered free of bird flu after 21 days without new infections.

Vietnam has reported no human infections of bird flu in the past two years.

The country is facing “very high” risks of bird flu spread in the coming time, the department said, warning about possibility that new virus strains could enter Vietnam due to the busy trade and smuggling activities in border areas. The virus often resurfaces in winter and spring.

Vietnam raised bird flu alerts last week as neighboring countries Cambodia and China reported ravaging outbreaks. The H7N9 bird flu virus, which was first detected in China in March 2013, has infected 340 people in China since January, 40 percent of whom have been killed.

In Vietnam the H5N1 strain has killed 65 people, one of the highest fatality rates in the world, since it recurred in 2003.

Health officials are urging the public to avoid consuming poultry with unknown origins and immediately seek help when they find sick or dead poultry.

Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, chest pain or breathing difficulty should also be taken seriously.

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