Thursday, February 03, 2005

H5N1 continues to spread in poultry

Thailand has announced that H5N1 infection in poultry has been detected in two northern provinces near the border with Laos. There are now eight provinces affected in the country. The cabinet has endorsed a $124.7 million plan to combat the infection (Manila Times). Vietnam, too, is feeling the financial burden and is appealing for international help as bird flu spreads just prior to the Lunar New Year holiday, when chicken will be the ceremonial fare (Financial Express).
"We are in a critical situation in public health terms, at least that the Tet Lunar Year is coming up," said Peter Cordingley, a spokesman at the WHO's Asia-Pacific headquarters in Manila.

"People are going to be on the move and there's going to be a lot of chickens that will be moved around, because chickens are on the dining table during these festivals. We are afraid that this might be a watershed moment."

Chicken is a traditional holiday dish and Cordingley said the WHO was seeing many cases of people in Vietnam and other countries plucking dead or dying chickens.

"We understand why this is being done, because for many families the chickens in their backyards are their main source of food," he said.

"But in circumstances at the moment we find this behavior inappropriate and we are advising governments in the region that the message must go out that people have to be more careful." (China Post [Taiwan])
Ho Chi Minh City (former Saigon, population 10 million) is cullling its entire population of domestic and wild ducks (estimated 200,000). Riot-police-manned checkpoints have been established to keep live chickens out of town. The markets in town are now almost empty of chickens and ducks, with people turning to pork and beef. The zoo is being continuously disinfected and the bird cages surrounded with nets to prevent contact with wildfowl (Stuff website [New Zealand]) .

Summary: no break in the clouds as yet.

Update (2/3/05, 11 pm): Xinhua Net (PR China) reports eight people in the north of Vietnam have been hospitalized with suspected bird flu. No more detailed information is available at this time.

Added comment: There is a map of the outbreaks on the European Commission site.