Bird Flu Alarm

2006-01-09-Vietnam says bird flu contained

Understanding Avian Influenza

2006-01-09-Vietnam says bird flu contained

HANOI, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Vietnam has contained bird flu with no more outbreaks reported in the past three weeks in the 21 cities and provinces affected, the Agriculture Ministry said.

"At present nationwide there are no communes, districts or provinces that have bird flu," the Ministry's Animal Health Department said in a report seen on Monday soon after the completion of the vaccination of all poultry.

Nearly 4 million infected ducks and chickens had been slaughtered or killed by the virus now endemic in parts of Asia since last October, when the latest outbreaks hit 21 of Vietnam's 64 provinces.

Vietnam had completed the anti-bird flu vaccination of more than 244 million poultry, most of them with two shots each, on Jan. 5, it added.

Last week, Vietnam lifted the ban on the import of processed poultry imposed late last year to prevent the virus spreading.

World health authorities worry that human exposure to the bird flu could lead to the emergence of a mutation allowing easier transmission between humans -- and raising the prospect of a global pandemic.

Vietnam's Health Ministry said the country, where bird flu has killed 42 people since the H5N1 virus first arrived in late 2003, has had no human cases since November.

But health experts say there could be more infections as poultry consumption resumes ahead of the Jan. 28-Feb. 2 Lunar New Year festival. Consumers are advised to buy poultry products certified by food inspectors as free of bird flu.

The virus claimed its first human deaths in Turkey this month.

Understanding Avian Influenza