|Officers from northern Ninh Binh Province's Animal Health Department vaccinate poultry. The Health Ministry called on localities to roll out precautionary measures against bird flu to avoid any possible transmission to humans. – VNA/VNS Photo Hai Yen
HA NOI (VNS) — The Ministry of Health has ordered local authorities nationwide to roll out precautionary measures against the spread of avian influenza, commonly called bird flu, to prevent any possible transmission to humans.
The MoH asked the provincial People's Committees to instruct their agriculture and rural development authorities to toughen the supervision, investigation and early discovery of all bird flu outbreaks.
The request was made on Wednesday following a warning from the World Health Organisation about a continuous increase of three strains of bird flu - A(H5N1), A(H5N6) and A(H5N1) - in Asian countries including China, Laos and Cambodia.
The WHO said China alone had reported a total of 12 cases of human infections so far this year.
Viet Nam has not identified any cases of human infections this year, but outbreaks of the bird flu subtypes A(H5N1) and H5N6 had been spreading through many provinces, including Nam Dinh, Nghe An, Thanh Hoa, Ha Tinh and Ninh Thuan.
Last Saturday, Nam Dinh People's Committee signed a declaration that the A/H5N6 bird flu epidemic was over.
Reports from the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development previously showed that from October 1 to 10, the A/H5N6 bird flu struck four households in the two communes. More than 2,600 poultry died or were culled.
The MoH urged security forces in bordering provinces to enforce the prevention of poultry smuggling through border gates, particularly the supervision of imported poultry products.
The ministry also ordered local health departments to intensify communication campaigns regarding protection measures for those living in high-risk areas.
Health authorities should focus on management and supervision while keeping a close watch on vulnerable residents to detect infected cases immediately, it said.
Local hospitals were asked to prepare necessary facilities, equipment and medicine stocks for supervising and treating suspected cases.
The Preventive Medicine Department was urged to make local people aware that they should regularly wash their hands with soap, practice personal hygiene and avoid direct contact with A/H5N1 patients or sick poultry to effectively prevent the disease.
Viet Nam recorded its first A/H5N1 cases in fowl and humans in December 2003.
The virus has since spread and triggered a number of outbreaks, causing severe health impacts and economic damage. — VNS