VIENTIANE, April 3 (Xinhua) -- The Lao government is formulating plans to respond to a possible outbreak of bird flu in the country's northern region at a three-day meeting on the subject in Luang Prabang, according to state-run daily Vientiane Times, Thursday.
According to Vientiane Times the meeting will formulate "plans and measures to prepare and respond to a possible outbreak of bird flu" in Phongsaly, Luang Namtha and Oudomxay provinces.
The meeting was chaired by Office Head of the Government Office Sinlavong Khoutphaythoune and was attended by Minister for Health Eksavang Vongvichit, international organizations and other relevant officials from the capital and northern provinces.
Sinlavong said that the Lao government attaches great importance to preventing and controlling bird flu if it occurs. He stressed the importance of identifying measures, mechanisms and collaborations needed between officials at a central and provincial level to respond to the virus in a timely manner.
While the Vientiane Times report stated that an outbreak of H5N1 virus occurred in Nator Xai village of Xayaboury Province, official Lao news agency KPL reported Tuesday that according to Xayaboury Livestock and Fisheries officials the cause of poultry deaths was in fact Cholera and Newcastle disease.
According to Vientiane Times the outbreak occurred when 1,000 chickens and ducks were brought to Xayaboury province via a neighboring country. Half of the animals died in transit while the remainder of the animals were quarantined and culled by local authorities.
Despite the fact that the virus is under control and hasn't spread to other villages, provincial authorities continue to monitor the situation carefully. Authorities have instructed locals to avoid eating the carcasses of animals found dead.
The outbreak of H5N1 in Nator Xai is the first time in more than five years that there has been an incidence of bird flu in the country. The last outbreak of bird flu took place in the country in December 2008.