March 15, 2007


Vietnam veterinary officials say H5N1 virus gene slightly changed


Genes of the H5N1 virus have changed only slightly among infected poultry in Vietnam, according to the Animal Health Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) on March 13.


Such change, however, will not influence poultry immunity after being vaccinated, the sources said.


Tests on 17,400 fowl-blood samples also showed the H5N1 virus gene rate among waterfowl is high at 30 to 50 percent, proving that bird flu virus is still present in several localities, especially the Mekong Delta region where most of waterfowl are raised.


A random inspection in the southern region in February 2007 indicates 5.6 percent of 712 swab samples from waterfowl in the region tested positive for H5 but negative for N1.


The risk of further bird flu outbreaks in Vietnam remains, the department said, calling on local officials and farmers to revitalize efforts to eradicate the bird flu virus.


Bird flu, which was contained in Vietnam for almost one year, reappeared first in the Mekong delta region on December 6, 2006, and later in the northern province of Hai Duong and Hanoi.