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Vietnam Tightens Borders to Prevent Fresh Outbreak of Bird Flu
posted by admin on 11/04/06
Illegally imported chicken from China is creating the danger of another bird flu outbreak in the country.
April 8 (Bloomberg) -- Vietnam will tighten border controls to stop the unauthorized movement of poultry from neighboring nations that may lead to a new outbreak of avian influenza.
``The trading in live birds across borders is one of the main causes of the spread of H5N1,'' said David Nabarro, the United Nations' senior coordinator for avian and human influenza, speaking to journalists today in Hanoi at the end of a visit to the country. ``In Vietnam, it is being very clearly stressed to us that the border controls are going to be intensified.''
The H5N1 virus has all prerequisites for the start of an influenza pandemic except the ability to spread efficiently among humans, the World Health Organization said in a report posted on its Web site yesterday. Vietnam, the world's hardest- hit bird-flu nation, hasn't discovered a case of H5N1 infection in humans since November.
Illegally imported chicken from China is creating the danger of another bird flu outbreak in Vietnam, the Vietnam News Agency said on March 17, citing Deputy Health Minister Trinh Quan Huan.
Two Vietnamese provinces may have found cases of bird flu in poultry in recent weeks, after no poultry infections had been reported in the country since December. Both provinces border China, and one of the provinces said the poultry that had tested positive had been confiscated after being smuggled into Vietnam from China. Nabarro had visited China in the past week.
``We did discuss in China as well the importance of trying to restrict movements of chickens from areas that are infected, including across borders,'' Nabarro said.
Tests on some chickens in a flock confiscated by Vietnamese authorities in Lang Son province after being smuggled into the country from China showed evidence of either current or past infection with avian influenza, Le Van Tao, deputy director of the institute of animal health at Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said on April 6.
``All uncontrolled movements of poultry are a risk factor that might lead to outbreaks,'' said Hans Troedsson, the World Health Organization's Vietnam representative, in a telephone interview on April 6. ``This needs to be controlled much more.''
Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem signed a letter tightening control over transportation in border provinces, including those adjacent to Cambodia, to stop the smuggling of poultry and poultry products, Tien Phong newspaper reported on April 4.
Cambodia's health ministry this week confirmed the sixth human bird-flu case in Cambodia, in a 12-year-old boy from a province bordering Vietnam who died in a Phnom Penh hospital after exposure to poultry that had died, according to the WHO.
``That outbreak was noted by the villagers, but was not handled because they didn't report it in time,'' Nabarro said. ``We have to work harder on helping to convert knowledge into practice.''
In the northern Vietnamese province of Cao Bang, poultry ``in large numbers'' from three farms have tested positive recently for avian influenza, Sai Gon Giai Phong newspaper reported today. Cao Bang is on Vietnam's border with China.
Provincial authorities in Cao Bang have yet to report test results to Vietnam's national government on recent poultry deaths in the province, said Hoang Van Nam, deputy director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's animal health department in Hanoi.
A ``vigorous'' response to outbreaks in the past in countries including Vietnam appears to have reduced the transmission of the H5N1 virus from poultry to humans, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations said in a statement on April 6 from its Rome headquarters.
Vietnam can provide ``valuable lessons'' to the rest of the world in fighting bird flu, Nabarro said in a statement released when he arrived in the country. Vietnam's response to bird flu has included vaccinations of poultry, follow-up surveillance, and public information campaigns.
``What we have seen in the last five or six months here is remarkable,'' said Troedsson of the World Health Organization, speaking today alongside Nabarro in Hanoi. ``If you had asked me eight months ago, I would have predicted a lot of human cases and poultry outbreaks in Vietnam, but that hasn't happened.''
To contact the reporter on this story:
Jason Folkmanis in Ho Chi Minh City at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last Updated: April 8, 2006 07:32 EDT
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