No samples test positive for H7N9
Thuy Dung and Hoang Nhung
A duck stand at Ha Vi Market in Hanoi. No poultry, environment and human samples in Vietnam have tested positive for the H7N9 strain of the avian influenza - Photo: TD
HANOI, HCMC - No poultry, environment and human samples in Vietnam have tested positive for the H7N9 strain of the avian influenza, so central agencies have recommended consumers continue using poultry products of clear origin.
Dam Xuan Thanh, deputy director general of the Department for Animal Health under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said animal health and quarantine authorities have taken pro-active measures against the disease, so the situation is under control.
On average, there are 1-7% of healthy poultry and waterfowls infected with the H5N1 and H5N6 strains of the flu virus. Bird flu outbreaks have occurred at 15 households in 11 communes of seven provinces for less than 21 days.
“Of nearly eight million animal husbandry households, the disease has hit several dozen,” Thanh said at a regular press conference of the ministry last Friday. "No serious outbreaks whatsoever."
He added in the affected areas, poultry has been culled and the environment disinfected, preventing the virus from spreading.
The biggest worry now is the H7N9 strain of the bird flu because the infected shows no clinical symptoms. If humans are inflected with this strain, the mortality rate is nearly 40%, he said.
The agriculture ministry is joining hands with the Ministry of Health to take measures against H7N9 in Vietnam. Over 200,000 samples taken from the environment, poultry and people have been collected at 200 markets and other high-risk areas in 20 cities and provinces, including Hanoi, but none of them have tested positive for the virus, said Thanh.
The Department for Animal Health has recommended consumers buy poultry products of clear origin. If exposed to sick and dead poultry, people must wash their hands with soap.
Farmers should buy breeds from reliable suppliers, and immediately dispose of sick and dead poultry in an appropriate manner.
Nguyen Van Trong, deputy director general of the Department for Animal Husbandry at the agriculture ministry, suggested expanding a local breed production project in seven northern border provinces to prevent border trade of poultry of unclear origin.
The department is stepping up VietGAP and biosecurity in livestock farming to obtain safe food.
In response to the complicated developments of H7N9 outbreaks in China and some H5N1 outbreaks in Vietnam's Nam Dinh Province, the Steering Committee for Prevention of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Viruses has called an emergency meeting to put all stakeholders on high alert.
Leaders of the agriculture and health authorities said the import of poultry from China into Vietnam via informal channels have been going unchecked. The risk of H7N9 spreading to Vietnam is high.
The Ministry of Health is keeping a close eye on the border gates of Vietnam, monitoring visitors from China and other high-risk countries. At 29 major international border gates of the nation, 90,000 visitors from China and Cambodia were monitored in the first two months of the year but none of them were found to show bird flu symptoms.