Ducks test positive for bird flu virus in Vietnam market

Updated:2006-08-30 01:47:42
Ducks test positive for bird flu virus in Vietnam market
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) - Vietnam's government detected the bird flu virus
in live ducks at a market and has banned any further hatching of ducks
after Friday in an effort to prevent the virus from spreading,
officials said Wednesday.

Two random samples recently tested positive for bird flu in specimens
taken from five ducks in a market on the outskirts of Hanoi, said Hoang
Van Nam, deputy director of the Animal Health Department.

Waterfowl have been a major concern in Vietnam because they can be
infected with the H5N1 virus without showing symptoms.

To help reduce the population, Agriculture Minister Cao Duc Phat has
ordered that all ducks hatched before Friday must be raised in fenced
farms and given bird flu vaccine, Nam said. Those hatched after Friday
must be destroyed under the order.

Last year, the government imposed a similar ban on hatching and raising
waterfowl, but it was largely ignored by farmers. It's unclear how the
government would enforce the order this time.

Nguyen Dang Vang, director of the Breeding Department said there are
220 million poultry in Vietnam as of April, including 50 million ducks
and 8 million geese.

The duck population is estimated to increase sharply over the past two
months as farmers in the southern Mekong Delta, the country's main duck
producer, hatched many ducks to eat rice leftover from the paddy
harvest, Vang said.

Officials also are worried about geese being a source of new flare-ups
because there is currently no vaccine available for them.

Vietnam had not reported any outbreaks in poultry this year until the
virus was detected through random testing in a handful of poultry in
southern Ben Tre province earlier this month. Vietnam has not reported
any human cases in nearly a year.

The country remains on high alert following a bird flu resurgence in
neighboring China, Laos and Cambodia.

Local media have reported that authorities confiscated more than 70
tons of chickens smuggled in from China so far this year. Far more
chicken crossed the border undetected.

Bird flu ravaged poultry farms in Asia in late 2003. It also jumped to
humans, killing at least 141 people worldwide. Most human cases have
been linked to contacts with sick birds, but experts fear the virus
will mutate into a form that spreads easily among people, potentially
sparking a pandemic.

08/30/06 01:46 EDT


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