Avian flu outbreaks increasing in Vietnam

Jan 12, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – The number of avian influenza outbreaks among poultry in Vietnam has been growing quickly, according to reports from the region.

The Vietnam Veterinary Department said outbreaks had been reported in 20 communes and 15 districts of seven cities and provinces, primarily in southern Vietnam, by Jan 9, according to a Voice of Vietnam news story posted online on that date.

By yesterday, the same veterinary agency reported 54 outbreaks among poultry in 51 communes from 29 districts and 9 provinces between Jan 1 and 10, according to a story by the Vietnam News Agency (VNA). The provinces involved remain predominantly southern, mostly in the Mekong Delta.

In addition, the number of culled poultry continues to climb. More than 103,000 infected poultry had been culled in the recent outbreaks, said a VNA report yesterday. Today the Bloomberg news service quoted authorities as saying that more than 114,000 birds had died or been culled since early December. More than 1,900 chickens and 1,500 ducks were culled yesterday alone in three Mekong Delta provinces, according to a Saigon Times Daily report cited by Bloomberg.

The reports of spreading poultry outbreaks follow three human deaths attributed to H5N1 avian flu in the past 2 weeks and come amid reports of more suspected human cases. An 18-year-old woman from the southern province of Hau Giang who died Jan 10 is thought to be a victim of avian flu, according to reports yesterday from Agence France-Presse and other media outlets. Confirmatory tests are pending.

A hospital director in Can Tho city said the 18-year-old had killed an infected chicken but did not eat it.

In addition, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported today that about 15 Vietnamese have been hospitalized with suspected cases of avian flu in recent weeks. The report included the four recent deaths in that total. The story said the newest suspected case is in a 35-year-old woman from the southern province of Tra Vinh who was hospitalized yesterday, 2 weeks after she killed and ate a sick chicken.

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