Bird flu spreads its ugly wings as Vietnam battles to contain outbreaks

By VnExpress   February 23, 2017 | 12:09 am PT
Bird flu spreads its ugly wings as Vietnam battles to contain outbreaks
A health worker removes a dead chicken at a wholesale poultry market in Hong Kong. Photo by Reuters/Tyrone Siu
Poultry smuggling over its borders has made it harder for Vietnam to prevent the virus from spreading.

Animal health officials have detected four new cases of bird flu in Vietnam over the last two days bringing the total number in the latest outbreak to six, despite the government's pre-emptive efforts to stop the virus from spreading.

The latest outbreaks were discovered in the northern province of Nam Dinh and the southern provinces of Soc Trang and Dong Nai.

Two other outbreaks were eliminated on Tuesday after officials destroyed thousands of birds infected by the H5N1 and H5N6 strains in the central province of Quang Ngai and the Mekong Delta province of Bac Lieu.

Officials say that the virus could easily spread to other areas, and warned provinces on the borders with China and Cambodia, where the virus is running rampant, to tighten control of poultry trade and travel.

Cambodia declared a bird flu outbreak late last month after the virus was found in chickens in Svay Rieng. In China, the H7N9 strain has infected 340 people since January, 40 percent of whom have died.

Dong Thap Province, which shares a long border with Cambodia and is home to about six million poultry birds, is working around the clock to prevent the bird flu from spreading.

The province has prepared a budget of VND25 billion ($1.09 million) to combat potential outbreaks and donated 200,000 doses of bird flu vaccine to poultry farmers in Cambodia.

Other border provinces such as An Giang and Long An have issued a temporary ban on poultry trade with Cambodia.

Authorities in Mekong Delta provinces with large stocks of poultry are planning to vaccinate millions of birds in the next three weeks.

Luong Ngoc Lan, director of Agriculture Department in Bac Lieu, said the provincial Animal Health Department has already vaccinated nearly 2 million birds. He added that the province has also intensified inspections and disinfected suspect areas.

Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture recently reported that the H7N9, H5N2, H5N8 and H5N6 strains are spreading in China.

While these viruses have yet to be detected in Vietnam, the ministry warned that there is a very high risk of them spreading due to trade and smuggling in border areas.

Authorities in the northern province of Lang Son said that thousands of birds are still coming over the border from China despite the bird flu warnings.

The provincial Industry and Trade Department said that demand for livestock from China had fallen towards the end of last year but has started to increase again, leading to more smuggling.

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

Related news:

> Bird flu returns to Vietnam; outbreaks kill thousands of poultry

> Vietnam wary as China grapples with deadly bird flu outbreak

> Vietnam raises border alert following Cambodia bird flu outbreak

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