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Inclement weather hikes bird flu risk

Update: February, 07/2014 - 09:41
Additionally, a series of spring festivals are being held across the country this month, increasing the demand for poultry products and encouraging the smuggling and illegal transport of poultry, particularly from China.— Photo dantri

HA NOI (VNS) — Unfavourable weather conditions and a high demand for poultry products during spring festivals are putting Viet Nam at high risk of bird flu viruses, warns the animal health department.

The department director Pham Van Dong told Viet Nam News yesterday that the current wet weather creates favourable conditions for the bird flu virus to break out and spread.

Additionally, a series of spring festivals are being held across the country this month, increasing the demand for poultry products and encouraging the smuggling and illegal transport of poultry, particularly from China.

Meanwhile, the avian influenza A (H7N9) virus outbreaks are happening close to the border between the two countries, he said.

"Although Viet Nam has not recorded any case of bird flu caused by the H7N9 strain so far, there is still a high risk of it spreading to this country," he said, adding that the two countries share a long border, making it hard for authorities to control poultry smuggling.

Besides, the boom in poultry trading post-Tet (Lunar New Year) festival and during the ongoing spring festivals across the country are also opportunities for the virus to break out and spread, Dong said.

Live domestic fowls are still on sale in many localities of Ha Noi such as Nguyen Cong Tru and Long Bien markets, in spite of a ban by the authorities. Poultry are even slaughtered right inside the markets or on the pavements.

A recent survey at 147 markets specialising in poultry trading in 44 localities revealed that bird flu viruses were found in 61 per cent of the markets and 5.6 per cent of ducks tested positive for the H5N1 virus.

Meanwhile, Viet Nam has recorded the second bird flu death from the H5N1 strain this year. The 60-year-old female victim from Mekong Delta Dong Thap Province died on January 28. She had tested positive for the H5N1 virus.

Earlier, on January 18, a 52-year-old man from southern Binh Phuoc died of the H5N1 virus infection after receiving treatment in HCM City.

Viet Nam has recorded 127 cases of the H5N1 virus infection since 2013, including 64 deaths.

Bird flu infections affecting nearly 10,000 poultry were found in four communes of northern Bac Ninh Province last month. This is the first province that has been hit by bird flu this year. — VNS

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