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Experts warn wet markets hotbeds for bird flu virus

Update: February, 28/2014 - 08:14

Poultry sold at Hom Market in Ha Noi City. Temporary markets and poultry trading markets have latent risk of H5N1 bird flu, according to experts. — VNS Photo Truong Vi

HA NOI (VNS) — All traditional markets that sell fresh poultry meat carry significant risk of becoming bird flu hotspots, animal health experts have warned.

A Viet Nam News Agency (VNA) report yesterday cited experts from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD)'s Department of Animal Health as saying temporary markets and wet markets nationwide have to take increased safety precautions against the disease, particularly the strain caused by the H5N1 virus.

The VNA report noted that at the Nguyen Cong Tru Market in Ha Noi's Hai Ba Trung District, a major poultry market, chicken and ducks are sold live, slaughtered and processed all in one place, increasing the chances of infection as well as spread of the deadly virus.

A small trader at the market said animal health workers checked the shops three or four times per month, but with the poultry coming in from different provinces including Bac Giang, Lang Son and Hoa Binh, it was easy for infected fowls to go undetected.

The situation is similar at many other markets in the city, including those on Hoang Hoa Tham Street in Ba Dinh District or the Thach Bich market in Thanh Oai District, the VNA report said, noting that the poultry are often slaughtered in the open, very close to the street.

According to the Animal Health Department, two people in the country have died of bird flu so far this year. The H5N1 virus has been detected in more than 20 provinces and cities over the past two months, and more than 63,600 fowls have died or been killed.

Department experts said that the cold weather of the past two months created favourable conditions for the virus to spread.

Besides, several localities have not been thorough in carrying out vaccination and sterilization programmes, they added.

Le Xuan Viet, head of the Ha Vy Market Management Board in Ha Noi's Thuong Tin District, said that at present, they were spraying the market with disinfectant twice a week, and closing it a month for sterilisation.

This by itself might not be sufficient to prevent the virus from spreading, experts said.

Department Director Pham Van Dong said inspections covering 147 live poultry markets in more than 40 provinces and cities showed more than 60 per cent had the virus.

About six per cent of duck samples taken tested positive for the H5N1 virus, he said.

To prevent the H5N1 virus from spreading, the agriculture ministry has asked authorities at all levels to keep close watch on live poultry markets and tighten their management of these and related facilities. All markets should be closed periodically for sterilisation, the ministry has directed.

On February 22, the ministry launched a month-long nationwide campaign to improve hygiene, sterilisation and disinfection at all wet markets.

Quang Ngai outbreak

Experts from the agriculture ministry visited the central province of Quang Ngai on Wednesday to monitor bird flu prevention and control efforts.

The disease was first detected in the province on January 3 in Tinh Ha Commune, Son Tinh District. By February 18, it had spread to eight communes in four districts.

More than 8,000 fowls have died or been killed since.

The provincial Department of Animal Health has supplied more than 900,000 doses of bird flu vaccine and 20,000 litres of the disinfectant, Benkocid, to districts in the province.

The Quang Ngai People's Committee has proposed that MARD support the province with an additional 20,000 litres of Benkocid and a million doses of the vaccine. — VNS



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