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Amid Coronavirus Epidemic, Vietnam Warns Provinces Against Avian Flu Outbreaks

As the Wuhan coronavirus continues to wreck Asian economies, Vietnam also has to watch out for a resurgence of avian flu.

Recently, Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development issued a document to all provincial and municipal People’s Committees, ordering local administrations to step up cautionary measures against bird flu, also known by its scientific name Influenza A virus subtype H5N1 (A/H5N1).

According to Bao Tai Nguyen Moi Truong, the guidelines order provinces to vaccinate poultry and collect samples from local birds to test for the virus. Officials are also urged to stop illegal livestock trafficking between provinces or from overseas into Vietnam; and sanitize high-risk areas starting this month

The directive came following reports by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) indicating that avian flu outbreaks have been detected in 11 nations and territories this year. On February 1, a “highly pathogenic subtype” of avian influenza was discovered at a farm in Shaoyang City in China after it had killed 4,500 chickens, more than half the facility’s flock, Japan Times reports. Since then, the city has terminated almost 18,000 poultry to prevent the spread.

Avian flu is highly transmissible among birds, though human infection is very slow. Statistics by the World Health Organization show that the virus has killed 455 people since 2003, the majority of whom caught it through contact with, or consumption of, poultry.

In 2019, avian flu outbreaks occurred in 70 farming households in 24 localities in Vietnam, leading to the culling of more than 133,000 poultry. A viral cluster was found in January this year in Quang Ninh Province, Bao Tai Nguyen Moi Truong reports.

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