HA NOI — Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on Tuesday asked authorities, especially those in border provinces, to tighten inspections and control of poultry imports in an attempt to stem a bird flu epidemic.
Drastic measures must be taken to stop unchecked poultry from entering Viet Nam, he said.
"Development of the disease is becoming complicated in Viet Nam and other countries in the world, urging measures to ensure better control of imported poultry, especially poultry that is smuggled into the country," he said.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's Animal Health Department, since the beginning of this year, the disease has re-emerged in 20 provinces and cities across the country.
Small outbreaks have been reported in the provinces of Quang Binh, Hai Duong and Hai Phong during the past three weeks.
The outbreaks were caused by a lack of awareness among poultry farmers and poor preparation in disease prevention and control.
Last year, bird flu occurred in 22 provinces and cities in Viet Nam, infecting over 110,000 poultry, with more than 151,000 culled.
According to statistics from the World Health Organisation, 61 people have died due to bird flu in Viet Nam since 2003, while the total number of deaths reported around the world is at 358.
Meanwhile, outbreaks of bird flu are continuing to raise concerns around the world. Earlier last month, the Mexican government declared a national health emergency over a bird flu epidemic that infected nearly 1.7 million poultry.
China's north-western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region also announced an outbreak of H5N1 in poultry last month.
The Journal of the American Society for Microbiology yesterday released research into a new strain of bird flu that has been causing deadly cases of pneumonia among baby seals – and could pose a risk to humans. — VNS