Animal health officials confirmed on
Saturday that the H5N1 virus had killed several birds among a flock of
more than 100 ducks in Thai Nguyen Town, about 80 kilometers (50 miles)
north of Hanoi.
year in late January, officials had detected the virus in dead chickens
at a farm in the same town and nearly 4,200 chickens had been
Deputy Health Minister Trinh Quan Huan last week, there was a very high
risk of bird flu returning during the winter and spring in northern
Vietnam. The H5N1 strain seems to thrive best in low temperatures.
The Tet Lunar
New Year festival late next month is also considered a high-risk time
for the spread of bird flu because the slaughter, trade and consumption
of poultry, and smuggling of birds from neighboring China, rises
Ministry last week issued a nationwide bird flu alert, urging cities and
provinces to step up detection and epidemic control measures.
have died of bird flu so far this year out of six reported H5N1
infections and all were found in northern Vietnam during the first
quarter of the year. No new human deaths have been reported since March.
Asian nation has recorded 106 infections, the second highest number of
cases among the 15 countries with known human cases, after Indonesia.
Since 2003, the
World Health Organization has confirmed 391 human cases of bird flu, of
which 247 people have died. In Vietnam, 52 people have died, the second
highest toll after Indonesia, where the virus has killed 113 people.
Bird flu mainly
kills animals, but scientists fear it could mutate to jump easily from
human to human, sparking a global pandemic.
Source: AFP, Reuters