Vietnam reports new avian flu outbreak

May 6, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – Vietnamese officials have reported an isolated avian flu outbreak in a southern province, more than a month after the country declared itself free of the disease, according to news services.

The outbreak in chickens at a farm in Dong Thap province, which involved the H5N1 virus, prompted destruction of the remaining chickens and quarantine of the area, according to Associated Press (AP) and Reuters reports today. The reports were based mainly on comments by Bui Quang Anh, an Agriculture Ministry veterinary official, to a newspaper called Tuoi Tre (Youth).

Vo Be Hien, director of the provincial veterinary agency in Dong Thap, said tests conducted in Ho Chi Minh City detected the H5N1 virus in chickens from the farm, according to the AP report.

H5N1 avian flu broke out in at least eight Asian countries earlier this year, leading to the destruction of more than 100 million birds, including 43 million in Vietnam. The virus also caused more than 30 human illness cases, with 16 deaths in Vietnam and eight in Thailand.

Vietnam declared itself free of avian flu on Mar 30. Thailand has twice postponed plans to declare the outbreaks ended, most recently on Apr 19, according to the Reuters report.

Bui warned that the risk of a major recurrence of avian flu in Vietnam is high, according to the AP report. "We are very worried because the virus is still in a large number of poultry," he said.

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