Animal disease warning issued as bird flu kills Mekong resident

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The Vietnamese Ministry of Health reported the first human bird flu death this year on Friday, prompting an animal health official to warn that animal health diseases could sweep the country in 2010.

The 38-year-old victim from the Mekong Delta Tien Giang Province was killed February 23, soon before Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City confirmed she had tested positive with the H5N1 virus. The victim’s name has not been released.

She had killed and processed sick chicken before getting sick on February 13.

The victim was hospitalized eight days after that at Sa Dec Hospital in the nearby Dong Thap Province when her condition became worse. She was diagnosed with severe viral pneumonia.

Also on Friday, Hoang Van Nam, acting head of the Animal Health Department at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said bird flu outbreaks have been reported in Nam Dinh and Dien Bien Provinces in the north, Khanh Hoa in the central region, and Ca Mau and Soc Trang in the Mekong Delta.

Khanh Hoa was added last to the list after 770 chickens in Ninh Hoa District and 6,000 quails in Van Ninh District got sick.

Chicken in Ca Mau were detected with the H5N1 virus in late January and nearly 200 ducks have contracted the virus recently.

“There’s very high risk bird flu will spread to other areas around the country, especially the Mekong Delta,” Nam said.

Delta farmers are harvesting their winter-spring crop and letting their ducks roam free to clean spilling rice seeds.

Nam said that can easily lead to outbreaks of bird flu.

Also, foot-and-mouth disease has returned to Tien Giang Province in the Mekong Delta recently. It has also spread to two new districts, Quy Chau and Nghia Dan, in the central province of Nghe An, Nam said.

Farmers and local officials have not properly vaccinated animals nor have they controlled the transport of cattle correctly, he said.

Many provinces reported high vaccination rates but when the disease occurred, it turned out they hadn’t vaccinated as much as they reported, Nam said.

Reported by Quang Duan

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