|A salagne breeding house run by the Yen Viet Trading Service Company in HCM City's Binh Thanh District. Experts said edible bird nests would be safe from bird flu as long as the products are produced and processed in line with national standards. — VNA/VNS Photo Le Hue
HCM CITY (VNS)— Hundreds of consumer households and businesses trading in the salagane bird in HCM City have started to feel the effects after thousands of salaganes died last week in central Ninh Thuan Province.
The dead birds were reported to be infected with the A/H5N1 bird flu virus.
Many shops selling salagane products in the city revealed that the purchasing power dropped by 10-30 per cent from the period before the information about dead salaganes in Ninh Thuan was publicised.
Nguyen Tri Phuong Street in District 5 is famous for its shops selling salagane products but which now sees very few customers. A shop owner told Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper that after hearing news that salaganes were infected with bird flu, no one dared to go eat food products made from this kind of bird.
The situation particularly worried salagane businesses in An Dong market in District 5 and Binh Tay market in District 6 who are storing hundreds of kilogrammes of salagane products. It costs around VND4-7 million (US$190-300) for one gramme of salagane product.
However, experts suggested that users should not be worried as A/H5N1 virus would not be present in salagane products if they were produced and processed in line with the required standard.
Director of Animal Health Agency of Zone 6 under the Animal Health Department Nguyen Xuan Binh said it would be very hard for an infected salagane to create a bird's nest from its saliva.
If the virus were to be transmitted to a bird's nest, it would be destroyed during the processing and sterilising process that bird's nests go through, he said.
There are over 300 salagane breeding houses in the city, most highly concentrated in the districts of Can Gio, Nha Be, District 9, District 2, District 7, Thu Duc, District 12, Hoc Mon and Binh Chanh. One kilo of a salagane's nest is worth VND40 million ($1,900).
Deputy head of the HCM City Animal Health Department Huynh Tan Phat said the department took nine samples of salagane products for tests and all samples came out negative for traces of the H5N1 virus.
The city has so far found no case of poultry infected with bird flu and no case of dead salaganes caused by H5N1 virus.
The department has requested breeders to take measures to prevent bird flu such as sterilising breeding houses and quickly reporting to local authorities if a large group of salaganes die.
The Animal Health Department yesterday held a close dworkshop in Ha Noi to build regulations to temporarily manage the raising of salaganes in response to the report on dead salaganes in Ninh Thuan Province.
Meanwhile, the Da Nang Centre for International Health Quarantine has set out a plan to measure the body temperature of all visitors coming through immigration in order to prevent the other type A bird flu, H7N9 from spreading.
The city centre's vice director Pham Truc Lam said yesterday that five teams in the centre work in shifts of 24 hours at the international airport and sea ports to monitor 8,000 visitors a week, of which 3,500 come from China and the disease-affected areas.
In a meeting yesterday, the city's health department assigned offices, hospitals and centres to augment preparations against the H7N9 virus.
The city reserved a fund of VND4.3 billion ($204,000) for flu prevention including the provision of drugs, necessary facilities, equipment and communications year around. — VNS