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Illegal poultry trade stokes bird flu fears

Update: February, 26/2010 - 11:05

HCM City faces the threat of bird flu from the widespread smuggling in of water fowls from nearby provinces. Poultry are on sale along the road from Go Vap District to District 12 in HCM City.—VNA/VNS Photo Van Khanh

HCM City faces the threat of bird flu from the widespread smuggling in of water fowls from nearby provinces. Poultry are on sale along the road from Go Vap District to District 12 in HCM City.—VNA/VNS Photo Van Khanh

HCM CITY — Veterinary officials in HCM City fear the avian flu that has already hit other localities in the country could re-emerge in the city and other southern provinces.

Their worry stems from the fact that illegal slaughter and sales of poultry was rampant before and after the Tet holidays in the city and surrounding areas.

The officials say that HCM City faces the threat of bird flu from the widespread smuggling in of water fowls from neighbouring provinces as demand of poultry increased in recent days.

Illegal poultry trading has been very popular in HCM City's outlying districts, the officials say.

They are worried that the epidemic can return strongly as many localities have ignored prevention tasks and the flu has been reported in seven provinces around the country.

Among the poultry hotspots in the city are the Cau market on Quang Trung Street in Go Vap District, the Tran Chanh Chieu Market in District 5 and Binh Tri Dong Market in Binh Tan District. Other markets in districts 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 11 are also major poultry trading sites.

There are many notorious wet markets where ducks and chicken have been slaughtered illegally for many years, and the practice continues to flourish despite the bird flu scare.

Pham Xuan Thao, head of the city Veterinary Department, told the Nguoi Lao Dong (Labourer) newspaper that his department would not be able to manage the epidemic without support from other departments and authorities.

He expressed unhappiness that district authorities have not closed down these illegal markets. Thao said that the city has asked district level administrations to crack down on illegal poultry trading and hand out stiff penalties to violators.

The department's veterinary officials have also organised regular inspections at spots where poultry trading was still popular, he said, adding that inter-departmental inspection teams, however, are likely to have been passive in executing their flu prevention tasks.

Every year, the city spends VND20 million on avian flu epidemic prevention, but many prevention committees did not operate with full seriousness. The disease has re-emerged in Ca Mau, Dien Bien, Soc Trang, Kon Tum, Quang Tri, Nghe An and Nam Dinh — VNS

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