Fri, Dec 24, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Vietnam worried about large-scale spread of bird flu

AP , HANOI

Vietnam's top veterinary official warned yesterday of the dangers of bird flu spreading on a large scale over the holiday season running up through Tet, or Lunar New Year.

"If the agencies and provinces do not carry out timely, drastic and effective measures, the outbreaks could possibly spread on a wide scale, affecting production, prices and people's spirit during Tet," department director Bui Quang Anh said.

The Veterinary Department called an emergency meeting on Wednesday in northern Ha Tay province, urging provincial authorities to strengthen surveillance for possible outbreaks, tighten control on poultry transportation and slaughterhouses, and disinfect farms, Anh said.

The disease, which killed 32 people in Asia earlier this year and devastated poultry farms throughout Asia, has resurfaced in Vietnam, with outbreaks reported in six provinces in the southern Mekong Delta this month, killing or forcing the cull of nearly 11,000 birds, he said.

The outbreaks were reported in Bac Lieu, Can Tho, Hau Giang, Tra Vinh, Binh Phuoc and Long An. Last month, only one outbreak was reported, he added.

Anh said the increased transportation of poultry between now and the Lunar New Year holiday and the cooler temperatures create favorable conditions for the bird flu virus to spread.

Poultry smuggled into Vietnam from neighboring China also worsens the situation, he said.

Anh said his department will coordinate with border guards, police and market inspectors to try to limit the amount of poultry smuggled into the country.

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