Vietnam warned against high bird flu risk

(VOV) - Although Vietnam has not yet reported any cases of A/H7N9 avian influenza, it is facing a substantial risk of contracting the two deadly bird flu strains A/H9N9 and A/H5N1.

Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long released the warning at a meeting in the northern border province of Lang Son on March 21 to launch a communications campaign against bird flu.

Vaccinating chicken against bird flu

According to a World Health Organization (WTO) report, the H7N9 avian influenza has broken out in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

To date, there have been 395 reported avian flu cases resulting in 121 deaths. The number of the Chinese infections in the first three months of this year increased 1.6 fold compared to the whole of last year.

The deadly strain is likely to spread into Vietnam, a close neighbour of China. Among border provinces, Lang Son currently faces the highest risk of an epidemic being declared.

Meanwhile, A/H5N1 flu outbreaks are hitting more than 10 Vietnamese provinces and cities.

Deputy Minister Long has asked all localities to strengthen preventative measures to stave off the entry of A/H7N9 and A/H5N1 viruses and prevent their spread to humans.

He also called on them to closely cooperate with other sectors to prohibit the transportation and trading of all poultry and related products illegally brought into Vietnam across the border.

Local authorities need to initiate measures to raise the public’s awareness on the importance of improving food safety and hygiene standards, and ensure they fully understand the health risks that contraband poultry pose.

They need to especially communicate to people that poultry products of unknown or suspicious origin should be avoided, he concluded. 

A series of activities in response to the campaign including washing hands with soap and water, motorcycles and cars parade with banners and slogans along the route across the city are also planned.