HANOI, March 31 (Xinhuanet) -- Eight human cases of bird flu infection have been detected in Vietnam since mid-March, which proves that the country's disease surveillance networks are still weak, Vietnamese health officials said.
"The risk of bird flu reoccurrence is unavoidable because awareness of residents about the disease and poultry breeding conditions are still limited. Many areas do not have strong surveillance networks," local newspaper Youth on Thursday quoted Health Deputy Minister Tran Chi Liem as saying.
To work out specific measures to contain bird flu in specific areas, the Ministry of Health will hold two meetings in the northern and central regions, he said.
Another health official, director of the ministry's Preventive Medicine Department Trinh Quan Huan stated that Vietnam's most important task, for the time being, is to control outbreaks among poultry, since residents still raise fowls, especially ducks, freely in fields and canals.
"All recent bird flu infections are related to loose control over the disease. Closer surveillance is needed, otherwise it's very difficult to contain bird flu among humans," the director stressed.
Vietnam will embark on a nationwide one-month campaign staring on April 1, under which relevant agencies and local residents keep all animal raising facilities and residential areas hygienic, he said, adding that the country is further researching into production of bird flu vaccines for people.
Over the past two weeks, Vietnam has detected eight human casesof bird flu infection, including one from central Quang Binh province, one from northern Nam Dinh province, one from northern Quang Ninh province and five from northern Hai Phong city, Huan said, adding that the health of five patients within a family fromthe city is improving.
Vietnam has detected 33 human cases of bird flu infection since mid-December 2004, of whom 15 have died, he noted.
Bird flu has stricken the country's 35 cities and provinces since January. Twenty-nine localities have seen no new outbreaks in their territory for three weeks, meeting criteria to announce an end to the disease.
The six remaining localities include Hai Phong, Tra Vinh, Ben Tre, Can Tho, Dong Thap and Hau Giang, according to the Department of Animal Health. Enditem