Bird flu kills one man, infects poultry in Vietnam
HANOI - Bird flu has killed a second man in Vietnam this week, infected a child and poultry in two provinces and a health official warned more people would fall sick of the virus, the government and state media said on Saturday.
The 27-year-old man died on Thursday night at a Hanoi hospital after he was taken there from the northern province of Ninh Binh on Tuesday with serious pneumonia, the official Vietnam News Agency reported.
On Jan. 31 he slaughtered two sick chickens and fell ill two days later with pneumonia symptoms, the Health Ministry has said. His death is Vietnam's third this year from bird flu.
Doctors also confirmed a 7-year-old child from the northern province of Hai Duong had the H5N1 virus and was being treated at a paediatric hospital in Hanoi, the Vietnam News Agency said without disclosing the gender or details of the infection.
Hai Duong is home to a 40-year-old man who died from bird flu on Tuesday, the 49th fatality of Vietnam's 103 confirmed cases, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said, citing tests performed by Vietnamese health authorities.
Both provinces of Ninh Binh and Hai Duong are not on the government's bird flu watchlist, but health officials said more human infections could emerge as chicken is a popular dish at this time of the year.
"Now it is the start of spring, parties using chicken are numerous," Nguyen Huy Nga, head of the Health Ministry's Preventive Medicine Department, said in an interview with the VNExpress e-newspaper (www.vnexpress.net).
"Many patients will be found in the coming days," he said, criticising poor communication as people failed to report dead poultry to the authorities.
Several people suspected of having bird flu were now being treated in Hanoi, the Vietnam News Agency said without elaborating.
The Agriculture Ministry's Animal Health Department also reported cases in the past week at two poultry farms in the northern province of Quang Ninh on the border with China and in the southern province of Long An.
Bird flu killed 855 birds in Mong Cai town and another district in Quang Ninh province on Feb. 12-14, prompting the authorities to slaughter 800 more birds, the department said.
"In Mong Cai town the poultry smuggling originated from China still takes place and it's difficult to control," the department said in its daily report.
Bird flu also killed 150 one-month-old ducklings in Long An province on Feb. 9, it said, bringing to four the number of provinces on the government's bird flu watchlist.
H5N1 remains mainly a virus of birds, but experts fear it could mutate into a form easily transmitted from person to person and sweep the world, possibly killing millions.
Not including the death on Thursday, bird flu has killed 227 people among the 361 known cases. Most of the deaths have been in Indonesia and Vietnam, WHO figures show.
By Ho Binh Minh - Reuters - February 15, 2008.