May 6, 2004



Expert Says H5N1 Virus Still Present In Vietnam

H5N1, the virus that causes bird flu, is still living in poultry in Vietnam's southern provinces. Dong Manh Hoa, director of the Ho Chi Minh City-based Regional Health Animal Center, told local newspaper Youth on Thursday.


Serum samples were taken from fowls in the four southern provinces of An Giang, Ben Tre, Tien Giang and Dong Thap. Many samples tested positive to H5, the main factor of bird flu outbreaks.


According to the center's surveys, 115 out of 711 samples in An Giang tested positive to H5. Results from the other areas include 110 out of 248 in Ben Tre, 25 out of 150 in Tien Giang, and 55 out of 660 in Dong Thap.


Although the maliciousness of the disease germs is not high enough to cause poultry to die en masse, nobody can eliminate risks of a relapse of bird flu, Hoa said.


Le Huy Ngo, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, also expressed his worry about the reoccurrence of bird flu. "The risk of the reoccurrence of bird flu in Vietnam is very high," the paper quoted him as saying.


With many baby fowls being transported from the northern region to the southern region, as well as from foreign countries to Vietnam, the risk is naturally higher. Local animal health agencies have asked the police force, road and airport sectors to assist in the coordination of inspecting poultry in the transport medium.


On March 30, Vietnam declared an end to bird flu outbreak which killed 17 percent of its fowl population. In 57 out of 64 localities, a total of 43.2 million poultry either died or were culled. This has caused the local poultry industry to suffer direct losses of 1.3 trillion Vietnamese dong (83.3 million US dollars).