Vietnam issues bird flu warning after latest human case reported in China

By Anh Duy   February 6, 2018 | 11:35 pm PT
Vietnam issues bird flu warning after latest human case reported in China
A man fumigates a chicken farm to prevent a bird flu outbreak in Vietnam. Photo by Vietnam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
Cool weather and high demand for chickens during the Lunar New Year heighten the risk of an outbreak.

Vietnam’s agriculture ministry issued an urgent message on Wednesday calling for increased vigilance to prevent fresh bird flu outbreaks.

The risk of outbreaks and penetration of dangerous viruses such as H7N9 is “very high” due the increased trade ahead of the Lunar New Year, the ministry said.

It said the northern mountainous region is most vulnerable, given its cool climate and proximity to China.

China reported another human infection of H7N9 on January 12, raising the number of people infected with avian flu in the country over the past five years to 1,624. Of those cases, 621 deaths have been reported, according to the World Health Organization.

Several provinces in China have temporarily closed poultry markets in an attempt to stop viruses from spreading.

Vietnam has not reported any infections of H7N9 in birds or humans, but the country has not been free from other strains such as H5N1 and H5N6. Last year, slightly less than 2 percent of birds tested were found to be carrying H5N1, and nearly 1 percent had the H5N6 strain.

The H5N1 strain has killed 65 people in Vietnam since it recurred in 2003, one of the highest fatality rates in the world. No human deaths were reported last year, but outbreaks led to thousands of poultry being culled.

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