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June 21, 2007

Vietnam: "This is not going to go away"

Via Yahoo News, an AFP story: Vietnam bird flu death a call for action, say experts. Excerpt:

"This is not going to go away," said WHO's Vietnam communications officer Dida Connor, speaking before news of the human death. "There is a sense of complacency which is potentially catastrophic if it was to increase."

The human fatality, which brought the country's bird flu death toll to 43, followed several avian influenza cases across Southeast Asia last week.

On Thursday, Indonesia said a 29-year-old man had died of bird flu, bringing the death toll in the country worst hit by the virus to 80.

In Malaysia five people were quarantined with suspected bird flu, while Myanmar reported a fresh poultry outbreak.

Vietnam's unusual summertime outbreak, concentrated in the densely populated northern Red River delta region, follows the ending in March of a two-year ban on duck hatching that has triggered a surge in production.

Nationwide vaccination campaigns -- widely hailed as a model that other countries have sought to emulate -- have become increasingly spotty, Vietnamese and international animal health officials have warned.

"We've had bird flu for four years," said the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's Vietnam bird flu specialist Jeffrey Gilbert. "Everyone's tired of it... but it's going on, and we are increasingly challenged to get these messages across to people that the risk hasn't gone away."

"People get very bored very quickly," he added.

"We can get the farmer to come in once or twice, but the third time he may see that it's not much of a priority anymore. He may not bother, or he may bring in 50 ducks and not bother to notify the authorities that there's another 150 (needing vaccination) still in the field."

The Vietnamese government's response to the young man's death is the subject of a story in Thanh Nien Daily.

Posted by dymaxion at June 21, 2007 09:46 PM

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