VIENTIANE, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- Vehicles crossing the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge on their way to Lao capital Vientiane will be sprayed with disinfectant to guard against the spread of avian influenza, state-run daily Vientiane Times reported Tuesday.
While there has been no outbreak of avian influenza in Laos this year, some neighboring countries have reported bird deaths as a result of the virus. Officials are taking the precautionary measures to insure against an outbreak because of the devastating effect it could have on the burgeoning Lao economy.
"It's so difficult to control the outbreak of flu if it occurs, " an official told Vientiane Times.
Avian influenza experts from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry's Livestock and Fishery Department said spraying vehicles is a proven method to stop the spread of the disease. The possibility of avian flu adapting into a virus transmissible to humans is a major concern for health officials.
Laos has previously had outbreaks of avian influenza in Vientiane, Savannakhet, Champassak and Luang Namtha provinces. Several lives were lost and thousands of birds were culled before the spread of the virus was halted.
Health officials in Laos have emphasized that even though the country is not experiencing an outbreak at present, citizens should remain vigilant. Many residents of Vientiane purchase goods and poultry products from neighboring Thailand which had experienced outbreaks in the past.
People are encouraged to wash their hands and avoid eating chickens or ducks that have died from sickness. As an added precaution people are being reminded to adequately cook poultry before consumption.