Friday, April 22, 2005

How much bird flu in Vietnam?

Thanh Nien News is reporting today that Vietnam is increasing its hospital capacity to handle patients with bird flu. Official reports note the difficulty of eradicating the poultry epidemic and blame sporadic human cases on failure to implement safety standards and public ignorance. But actions on-the-ground seem to tell a different story:
Five more hospitals in Vietnam will be furnished with new equipment able to handle H5N1 patients, bringing the total to 12 nationwide, the Health Ministry said.

Also, the ministry has asked for reinforcement of measures to quickly control the epidemic.

Specifically, localities have to strictly supervise fowl farming and transport at households in order to discover newly-hit places.

Provinces and cities along borders must check people from neighboring nations affected by the disease when they enter the country as well as monitor fowl transport across the border.
We note that Henry Niman at Recombinomics reported last week that nearly 1000 blood samples were sent to CDC, although how many were human and how many were poultry or other animals is unclear. There is still no information on the results of tests on the nearly 200 reported flu-like cases from Quang Binh, leading Niman to suspect that widespread infection has been detected.

If WHO and Vietnamese authorities have information to the contrary they had better get around to saying it.