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Vietnam reports bird flu outbreaks near China

Written by: Staff

Hanoi, Apr 8: Vietnam has detected bird flu on three farms near the Chinese border, the second such finding in the past few days, an animal health official said today.

Health workers slaughtered 157 chickens and ducks after farmers said 30 birds died on March 19 on three farms in Cao Bang province, said Dang Quang Binh, head of the provincial Animal Health Department.

''We sent samples for testing and on March 25 the results showed H5 was found in poultry samples from the three farms,'' Binh told Reuters by telephone from Cao Bang, 270 km north of Hanoi.

He was referring to the H5 subtype avian flu virus.

No further tests were likely be done to confirm if the strain was H5N1, which has killed 42 people in Vietnam since late 2003.

Vietnam usually tests for the N component of the strain when a sample comes from a suspected human case.

With poultry, the finding of H5 is enough to carry out preventive measures such as slaughter and disinfection of birds.

The H5N1 strain has killed or led to the culling of millions of poultry in Vietnam but there have not been any human cases since last November.

On Thursday, officials said the H5 subtype virus was found in samples from chickens smuggled from China and seized in Lang Son province, next to Cao Bang, marking the first published finding of bird flu in poultry in Vietnam since December.

Binh said the latest infection was in Trung Khanh district, an area afflicted by bird flu last year. Cao Bang province would vaccinate poultry against bird flu later this month, he said.

Vietnam vaccinated 240 million ducks and chickens last year as part of a series of measures to fight bird flu, which has killed at least 109 people worldwide since the H5N1 virus re-emerged in Asia in 2003 and has since spread to the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

This week Vietnam stepped up border-control measures to prevent a resurgence of bird flu, but officials said the efforts did not always succeed because northern Vietnamese were involved in the lucrative illegal trade of smuggling chickens from China.

They can sell the birds in Vietnam at up to 10 times their buying price but in the process run the risk of re-introducing bird flu.


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