Ministry of Education steps up avian flu prevention measures

Update: March, 03/2014 - 08:32
Local authorities in HCM City check hen and duck eggs sold in a local market in Binh Chanh District. Although the country is in the high risk category for an outbreak of the new H7N9 avian flu, to date no infections in either poultry or humans, has been reported, according to health experts. — VNA/VNS Photo An Hieu

HCM CITY (VNS) — The Ministry of Education and Training asked its departments, educational institutes and vocational schools to co-operate with health departments and other relevant agencies in the provinces and cities, in the prevention of avian flu especially A(H7N9).

In particular, schools should be vigilant and monitor the health of their students and staff closely, and report any cases of avian flu immediately.

Flu prevention information should be provided to students and staff so that they can recognise the infection, identify different strains of the virus and adopt suitable hygiene habits to prevent infection.

Similarly, schools were asked to improve food safety and hygiene standards in their canteens and advised that all poultry be well-cooked.

Health experts warned that although the country is in the high risk category for an outbreak of the new H7N9 avian flu, to date no infections in either poultry or humans, of this particular strain has been reported.

Neighbouring provinces in China have seen an increased incidence of H7N9 flu, they said, adding that this strain of flu could enter the country through smuggled poultry.

They also warned of more small outbreaks of the less virulent H5N1 flu in Viet Nam over the coming months. So far, 24 provinces and cities have reported cases of the infection in poultry and humans.

To combat the infection, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Ministry of Health have set up inspection teams for flu prevention in the provinces.

Tran Dac Phu, head of the Health Ministry's Preventive Health Department, told the online newspaper Vnexpress that the first time the H5N1 flu strain was identified in humans, was in 2003.

Although incidences and fatalities of avian flu have reduced, Viet Nam still is third highest in the world for incidences of bird flu, following Egypt and Indonesia, according to Phu.

Usually, the country records two or three incidences a year, but in the first two months of this year alone, there have been two fatalities.

That the risk of outbreak remains great because they have yet to get the flu in poultry, under control.

Besides local authorities, health and agricultural staffs, residents and education professionals must take responsibility in preventing an outbreak, Phu said.

A common problem was residents throwing away infected dead chickens or ducks instead of destroying them properly, which would only contribute to the spread of infection, he added.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development agreed to provide 15,000 litres of chemicals to the provinces of Thanh Hoa, Khanh Hoa and Tay Ninh, to help destroy infected poultry safely. —VNS