Vietnam prepares for potential bird flu outbreaks among humans

(Sep. 11, 2006) Vietnam's Health Ministry has assigned 14 hospitals in major cities to closely supervise and promptly cope with any bird flu outbreaks among people, according to local newspaper Labor on Monday.

The hospitals and preventive medicine centers are to ensure the operation of disease surveillance systems around the clock, and the sufficient supply of facilities for treatment of bird flu patients.

The ministry said if the outbreaks spread, general hospitals in provinces had to form an isolation area at their infectious disease departments, and mobilize healthcare workers and equipment from first aid and pediatrics departments. Each hospital should set aside 10-20 beds for receiving bird flu patients.

The Vietnamese government has recently instructed state agencies and localities nationwide to intensify prevention of and fights against bird flu, including placing a temporary ban on import of live poultry and related products from countries hit by the disease. It has urged relevant ministries and People's Committees of localities to speed up bird flu vaccination among fowls nationwide, and maintain operation of anti-bird flu steering committees at all levels in preparation for potential outbreaks of bird flu among both fowls and humans.

Bird flu outbreaks, starting in Vietnam in December 2003, have killed and led to the forced culling of dozens of millions of fowls. The last outbreak of bird flu among poultry in the country was in December 2005, according to the Department of Animal Health under the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

To date, Vietnam has detected 93 bird flu patients, the country 's Health Ministry said on Monday, noting that it has seen no new human cases of infections since mid-November 2005. (from Xinhua)


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