Vietnam takes urgent measures to tackle bird flu

The National Steering Committee for Bird Flu Prevention held an urgent meeting with local authorities nationwide on February 23 to discuss possible solutions to tackle the re-occurrence of bird flu in the country.

Since the beginning of this year, bird flu has spread in 36 communes of 12 provinces across the country, resulting in 51,900 poultry deaths, according to Hoang Van Nam, director of the Department of Animal Health, at the meeting.

Numerous dead fowl have been quarantined in the northern provinces of Ha Tinh and Nghe An in Hanoi, awaiting to be tested for bird flu virus.

The H5N1 bird flu virus, presently in circulation in the country since September 2011, has affected 15 provinces and cities, with the highest rate being reported in the central provinces Ha Tinh and Quang Nam.

According to Nguyen Huu Duong, director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in the northern province of Hai Duong, local farmers are seriously concerned as they have around 10 million poultry.

Recent inspections of the most infected areas show that the main reasons for such rapid spread of the disease was unhygienic farm areas, poor hygiene practices and low-quality breeding.

Duong said that the most difficult issue at the moment was the inability to identify the precise subtype of the H5N1 virus circulating in the province. He then suggested that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development send details of the various H5N1 virus types so that suitable vaccines can be applied.

Representatives at the meeting asked the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to immediately deliver sufficient vaccines to protect domestic poultry and fowl.

Many shared their worry at their inability to monitor illegal transport of poultry across provinces. One representative from Hai Phong City, where the epidemic has just been reported, announced that since the city was the main intersection, with large numbers of fowl being transported everyday; it was highly vulnerable to the disease.

Consequently, the city has requested all local authorities do their utmost to examine carefully the origins of all poultry.

Diep Kinh Tan, Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development said that a final mapping of the virus route will be ready by the end of February and vaccines will be delivered accordingly. At the moment, the Ministry is mainly focused on provinces reporting the epidemic.

Related agencies have been requested to stay on high alert, seeing the present weather conditions, in which the H5N1 virus is said to flourish, such as freezing to highly humid weather in the north and unseasonable rainfall in the south.

Nguyen Duc Quyen, Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee in the northern province of Thanh Hoa, said that a manager at a veterinary centre has been suspended because of lax behavior.

Till now, the epidemic has killed around 13,000 poultry in the province. The Thanh Hoa People’s Committee said that those in charge of controlling bird flu will be punished if the disease occurs in the area.

Quyen also asked for more vaccines to protect existing domestic poultry and fowl in the province.

By Van Nguyen – Translated by Uyen Phuong

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