Bird flu returns again to Vietnam

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Another outbreak of bird flu has hit Vietnam this time affecting the north of the country.

This latest outbreak has resurfaced in poultry in northern Vietnam and killed ducks and chickens at two farms following a number of months without any new cases of the deadly H5N1 virus.

According to reports the outbreak occurred in a flock of over a hundred ducks in Thai Nguyen city, 80 km north of Hanoi and the virus has also been detected in dead chickens at a farm in the same city where almost 4,200 chickens have been culled to prevent the spread of the virus.

Although the last death was in April, scientists warn that the deadly virus could return and health officials say that the risk of bird flu reappearing this winter and spring in northern Vietnam is high - the H5N1 strain appears to thrive best in low temperature.

To date in 2008 five people in Vietnam have died from the lethal bird flu out of six reported H5N1 infections - all from northern Vietnam and during the first quarter of the year.

According to the World Health Organisation since 2003 the H5N1 strain has killed 247 people globally among the 391 confirmed cases of infection - Vietnam has had 106 cases from 36 provinces and cities since then and of these, 52 have died.

Vietnam’s death toll from bird flu comes second only to Indonesia’s which has had the highest number of cases among the 15 countries affected.

The Ministry of Health has sent urgent instructions to all the 63 provincial and city health departments to be on alert and strengthen their avian flu prevention tactics and have also stressed the importance of early detection of suspected H5N1 infection in order to ensure immediate quarantines and controls are implemented along with the strict control of visitors arriving from affected areas.


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