By Trung Chanh and Thuy Dung - The Saigon Times Daily
CAN THO, HANOI – Bird flu has broken out in the country, with 10 provinces affected so far, and the situation has caused concerns among farming households.
In particular, the H5N1 strain of the bird-flu virus has hit poultry in Thanh Hoa, Quang Tri, Ha Nam, Soc Trang, Thai Nguyen, Hai Duong, Kien Giang, Hai Phong, Bac Giang and Ha Tinh, said the Department of Animal Health under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
A flu outbreak in Kien Giang’s Giong Rieng District has infected 220 chickens, with 150 of them killed. The influenza has also been detected in Yen The District, Bac Giang Province, with 600 of 1,000 chickens there dead.
Meanwhile, in Thai Nguyen, the disease broke out at two farms in Song Cong Township. The provincial animal health department is joining hands with local authority to cull affected poultry and take measures to prevent the spread of the disease.
Two outbreaks have lately been detected in Ky Anh and Cam Xuyen districts of Ha Tinh Province, where 1,250 fowls tested positive for H5N1.
Overall, some 17,500 poultry had died of the flu and culled by Wednesday, including over 3,000 chickens and 14,000 ducks. Compared to 2011, disease outbreaks are fewer, but the rate of infection is higher and outbreaks are more widespread.
As the disease is getting more complicated, multiple poultry farming households in the Mekong Delta are extremely worried. Nguyen Thi Be in Tien Giang said though no outbreak had been reported in the province but she was constantly disinfecting her farm every three or four days.
Nguyen Thi Muoi in Long An said she banned strangers from her poultry pens.
Le Minh Khanh, deputy head of Tien Giang’s animal health department, said his agency was cooperating with other localities to enhance bird flu prevention and control.
Other Mekong Delta provinces than Tien Giang are taking the initiative to cope with the rapid spread of the disease.
According to the agriculture ministry, the virus is more virulent this year. The Re-5 vaccine could protect 90-100% of the inoculated in the past, but now the ratio has fallen to 60-70%.
Deputy agriculture minister Diep Kinh Tan said farmers are not recommended to stop vaccinating their poultry, but the Government will not provide farmers with free vaccines anymore.
New vaccines with higher protection are under research, but when they are available is unknown. However, Tan said early detection and prompt treatment must be prioritized, rather than depending heavily on vaccines.