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Bird Flu Fight Is Partly Successful, FAO Says, Citing Vietnam
posted by admin on 07/04/06
Vigorous response to outbreaks in Thailand, Vietnam and China, appears to have reduced the transmission of the disease from poultry to humans
April 7 (Bloomberg) -- Efforts to control the H5N1 bird flu virus, now found in more than 40 countries, have been partly successful, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations said, citing countries such as Vietnam as an example.
The appearance of the H5N1 virus in Asia in late 2003 sparked the current round of global outbreaks. No human cases have been found since last year in Vietnam, which has the most human fatalities as a result of bird flu, or in Thailand, which was second to Vietnam in human cases in 2004. There have been 42 human fatalities from bird flu in Vietnam and 14 in Thailand.
``Vigorous response to outbreaks in this region, particularly in Thailand, Vietnam and China, appears to have reduced the transmission of the disease from poultry to humans,'' the FAO said in a statement from its headquarters in Rome.
The World Health Organization yesterday reported on new human cases in Cambodia and Egypt. More than two dozen countries have reported initial outbreaks among poultry this year and the virus has entered the European Union.
``Vaccination campaigns, such as the one carried out in Vietnam, have also played an important role in helping some countries contain the spread of the disease,'' the FAO said. ``Recognizing the need for owner compensation schemes has not only helped alleviate economic hardship, it has also encouraged timely reporting of new avian influenza outbreaks,''
Vietnam began vaccinating poultry last year, with more than 130 million poultry now having received shots, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's animal health department said.
The ``massive'' vaccination operation, follow-up surveillance and public information campaign have contributed to controlling the virus in Vietnam, the UN said yesterday in a separate statement on the visit to Hanoi of David Nabarro, the senior UN system coordinator for avian and human influenza.
``Vietnam can provide some valuable lessons to the rest of the world, not only in its fight against a potential epidemic, but also in its donor and government cooperation,'' Nabarro said in a statement.
Restrictions on live poultry markets and on the raising of poultry in larger cities have helped control bird flu in Vietnam, said Hans Troedsson, the World Health Organization's representative in Vietnam.
``Vietnam is still probably not virus-free because it was so widely spread, but they've been able to suppress the virus load,'' said Troedsson, in a telephone interview from Hanoi. ``We don't have any indications of any suspected human cases. In the past, there were some issues about the reporting, but that's not the case now.''
The threat of a new outbreak in Vietnam still exists, given that neighboring countries are reporting both animal and human cases, the UN said. The World Health Organization yesterday confirmed Cambodia's sixth human bird flu case, the death of a 12-year-old boy from a province bordering Vietnam.
``Numerous chicken deaths and some duck deaths were noted to have occurred in the neighborhood in recent weeks,'' the WHO said in a statement posted on its Web site. ``The child reportedly gathered dead chickens for distribution to village families for consumption.''
Outside of Asia, the H5N1 virus is still appearing in both humans and poultry. Egypt's Health Ministry now puts the country's number of human bird flu infections at 11, after the death yesterday of a teenaged female who tested positive for H5N1, the WHO said on its Web site.
Included among Egypt's total is the case of a 31-year-old Egyptian national who is hospitalized in Jordan, where he works.
``Given his exposure history and what is known about the incubation period of this disease, health authorities in both Egypt and Jordan have concluded that the man almost certainly acquired his infection while in Egypt,'' the WHO said.
The WHO yesterday cited two cases announced by the Egyptian government this week, one of a 16-month-old girl and another of an 8-year-old boy. Both are currently hospitalized.
All the Egyptian cases have a history of close contact with dead or diseased poultry, the WHO said.
To contact the reporter on this story:
Jason Folkmanis in Ho Chi Minh City at email@example.com.
Last Updated: April 7, 2006 01:20 EDT
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