VN reports no new cases of bird flu in humans since 2014

Update: October, 17/2018 - 15:00
Workers vaccinate poultry to prevent an outbreak of bird flu in 2015. — VNA/VNS Photo Anh Tuấn
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI – Việt Nam has reported no new cases of human infection with avian influenza viruses since the second half of 2014, an agriculture official said.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Hà Công Tuấn said Việt Nam successfully prevented the epidemic from spreading on a large scale. The infection was mainly local and only affected a small portion of poultry.

“The number of human infections and deaths from bird flu in the country has markedly decreased year after year,” Tuấn told a conference on the National Avian Flu Control Plan for 2014-18 and 2019-25 in Hà Nội on Tuesday.

“No new cases have been found since the final months of 2014.”

In the ten years between 2004 and the first half of 2014, 64 people died of the A/H5N1 strain of bird flu in Việt Nam.

The deaths made up 50.4 per cent of the 127 cases of A/H5N1 bird flu infections, said Deputy Head of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Department of Animal Health Đàm Xuân Thành

Thành said the A/H5N1 bird flu was first detected in the country at the end of 2003.

“Việt Nam was among the first countries to announce a bird flu outbreak,” Thành said. “The incident caused big losses in poultry with some 45 million animals slaughtered between 2003 and 2006.”

Thành added that hundreds of thousands of infected poultry had been culled annually in the years since.

In a report presented to the conference, Thành said the achievements of the National Avian Flu Control Plan for 2014-18 included basic control of avian flu among animals, having no human infections, successful prevention of the spread of A/H7N9 bird flu into the country and safe export of poultry products.

The animal husbandry sector had recovered and maintained stable growth with 330 million animals nationwide. Pollution due to the slaughter of infected poultry had been mitigated.

Nevertheless, he warned that the risk of other strains of avian influenza viruses entering Việt Nam was still high, especially in provinces bordering other countries. The A/H5N1 and A/H5N6 strains were relatively prevalent, some 5 per cent on average.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), animal influenza viruses are distinct from human seasonal influenza viruses and do not easily transmit to humans, but may occasionally infect humans through direct or indirect contact with infected animals. Infection can cause diseases in humans ranging from mild symptoms to death.

Between 2003 and September 2018, tens of countries worldwide reported cases of animal influenza viruses annually, forcing them to kill millions of poultry.

Globally, from January 2003 to December 2017, there were 860 cases of human infection with the A/H5N1 virus in 16 countries. Up to 454 (52.8 per cent) of these cases were fatal, according to the WHO.

No new cases of human infection with the A/H9N2 virus were reported to the UN organisation in the Western Pacific Region between February 23, 2018 and March 1, 2018.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation reported that as many as 1,625 cases of human infection with the A/H7N9 strain were confirmed, causing 623 deaths worldwide since February 2013. — VNS