Fresh avian flu outbreaks hit Vietnam, Egypt

Feb 5, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – Veterinary officials in Vietnam and Egypt have found more H5N1 avian influenza in poultry, and officials in Hong Kong are investigating the source of infected poultry that have washed up on island beaches.

In Vietnam, animal health officials confirmed the virus in sick ducks in Soc Trang province, in the Mekong Delta region, Voice of Vietnam (VOV), the country's national radio station, reported today.

Nguyen Huu Vinh, deputy head of the provincial animal health department told VOV that the virus killed 527 of 700 2-month-old ducks at a farm in Vien Binh commune. Authorities destroyed the remaining birds. The report did not say if the flock had been vaccinated.

Elsewhere, authorities in Egypt reported an H5N1 outbreak in backyard birds in the country's Sharkiya governorate, according to a Feb 3 report posted on the Web site of Egypt-based Strengthening Avian Influenza Detection and Response (SAIDR). The project, funded by the US Agency for International Development with assistance from Johns Hopkins University, is designed to help Egypt coordinate avian flu efforts with its international partners.

The outbreak involved 150 chickens, 15 ducks, and 12 geese in El Kenayat district. Vaccination status of the birds was not known, the SAIDR report said. Sharkiya governorate is in northern Egypt and is located about 50 miles northeast of Cairo.

In other developments, agriculture officials in Hong Kong yesterday confirmed that samples from a dead goose and two ducks that washed up on a Lantau Island beach were positive for the H5N1 virus, according to a government press release. The birds were found at the same location on Jan 29 and Jan 31.

Two dead chickens were found on another part of the island's coast yesterday and will undergo avian flu testing. The press release said Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department will closely monitor the situation and try to determine the origin of the bird carcasses.

Inspections on the northern part of the island found no unauthorized backyard poultry. Hong Kong's backyard poultry ban, which applies to chickens, ducks, geese, pigeons, and quails, has been in effect since 2006 and carries a maximum $50,000 fine.

Lantau Island, Hong Kong's largest island, is located at the mouth of the Pearl River. In November 2008, authorities detected the H5N1 virus in poultry feces in some live poultry markets in urban areas but did not determine the source of the virus. One month later they reported an H5N1 outbreak at a commercial farm in Hong Kong.

See also:

Feb 4 Hong Kong government press release

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