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Ca Mau, Bac Lieu outbreaks halted

Update: December, 22/2006 - 00:00

Ca Mau, Bac Lieu outbreaks halted

(22-12-2006)

HCM CITY — Two recent bird flu outbreaks in the southernmost provinces of Ca Mau and Bac Lieu have been brought under control, but the risk of new outbreaks are still high, according to local authorities.

Chau Thi Kim Tuyen, deputy head of Ca Mau Province’s Animal Health Department, said on Wednesday that after the new outbreak occurred on December 6, the province’s veterinarians destroyed infected poultry and sprayed disinfectants in vulnerable areas.

"Infected poultry in previous outbreaks were all destroyed, but a new outbreak still occurred here," said Pham Van Nhan, secretary of Vinh Binh Commune’s Party Committee.

Bac Lieu Province’s People’s Committee on Wednesday ordered local authorities to set up checkpoints to ban the transport of poultry out of bird – flu affected areas and to complete vaccinations for domestic fowl.

The committee told residents to contact authorities if they find dead poultry and not to throw any dead birds into the river or on rice fields.

In August during flood season, local media warned that the risk of bird flu reappearing in the region was very high because local authorities were unable to control free-range duck flocks in rice fields.

"The habit of feeding ducks in rice fields contributes to the spread of bird flu," said Ngo Chi Dung, head of Ca Mau Province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Farmer Luu Van Bich, in Ca Mau Province’s Khanh Hung Commune said several of his 850 ducks died this month. "After the ducks died, I left the rest of the flock in the rice fields because I was afraid of getting infected," Bich said.

Farmers in Khanh Hung Commune currently raise 20,000 domestic fowl, most of them are ducks.

"To prevent further outbreaks, Ca Mau Province will destroy all sick poultry, then take blood samples to test for the H5N1 virus," Dung said. "Local farmers not willing to destroy sick poultry will be forced to destroy them."

Ca Mau Provinces have mobilised all of its veterinarians, army forces and youth to help local residents stamp out the outbreak.

Ministries’ instructions

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat has instructed authorities to thoroughly prepare for new bird flu outbreaks.

Under the instructions, local authorities and veterinarians have been asked to step up surveillance so that cases can be identified as early as possible.

Local authorities will bear the responsibility for any late detection of outbreaks and vaccinations of poultry.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) has also ordered all provinces and cities nationwide, particularly Bac Lieu and Ca Mau provinces, to boost preventive measures to prevent and control a bird flu epidemic.

The MoH has required health departments at grassroot levels to keep a close eye on any suspected cases of bird flu and to provide prompt treatment to those that may be infcted.

Health departmentshave been asked to disseminate information on the prevention and control of bird flu, and urge residents to have check-ups at health centres when they show any sign of a bird flu infection, such as an unusually high fever. — VNS