Potential risk of bird flu spreading to humans, warns Health Ministry following outbreaks
  • | VNS | March 25, 2024 05:30 PM
The Ministry of Health said that there is still a potential risk of avian flu infection in humans.

The Department of Animal Health requests strict control of flu epidemics in poultry to prevent the disease from spreading to humans.

After a 21-year-old male student at Nha Trang University died from H5 influenza virus infection, the Department of Preventive Medicine (Ministry of Health) had sent a document to the Department of Health of Khánh Hoà Province calling for strengthening control of avian influenza to prevent transmission to humans.

The Department of Animal Health (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development) reported that avian flu epidemics are still sporadically recorded in poultry flocks in many localities across the country.

From the beginning of this year until now, six bird flu outbreaks have been recorded in six provinces and cities including Bắc Ninh, Ninh Bình, Khánh Hoà, Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu, Long An and Tiền Giang.

The department said that as the seasons are changing, the weather shows unexpected changes that are favourable factors for virus development.

To proactively prevent bird flu from infecting humans, the department requested directors of provincial and city departments of health to direct affiliated units to investigate the source of infection and thoroughly handle the outbreak.

The Ministry of Health also asked health departments and medical facilities to strengthen surveillance to detect new cases and be ready to receive quarantine and treat patients according to regulations.

The Centre for Disease Control was asked to promptly deploy epidemic prevention and control measures, as well as co-ordinate with the agricultural sector and local authorities to monitor and early detect influenza outbreaks in poultry.

Information dissemination on preventing bird flu infection from spreading to humans, especially in areas with dead poultry and high-risk areas, must be enhanced while medicines, supplies and chemicals to handle outbreaks should be well prepared.

The Ministry of Health warned that there is still a potential risk of avian influenza infection to humans.

There is currently no specific treatment for avian influenza in humans and no vaccine to prevent the disease.

And there is no evidence that influenza A/H5N1 is transmitted from person to person.

The A/H5N1 virus is a highly virulent strain of influenza; infected people often develop severe disease and die at a high rate of about 50 per cent.

To effectively manage the A/H5N1 influenza outbreak and block its transmission from poultry to humans, adherence to five key measures is critical:

Firstly, individuals should abstain from consuming poultry or poultry products that are unwell, deceased, or of uncertain provenance; it's essential to consume only thoroughly cooked food and to practice hand washing with soap prior to eating. Secondly, the act of slaughtering, transporting, purchasing, or selling poultry or poultry products whose origins are not known must be strictly avoided. Thirdly, upon encountering sick or deceased poultry, it's imperative not to process or consume such animals; instead, immediate notification should be given to local authorities and veterinary services in the vicinity.

Additionally, there should be a reduction in contact with, slaughtering of, and consumption of wild animals, particularly avian species. Lastly, should one exhibit flu-like symptoms — including fever, cough, chest discomfort, and breathing difficulties, particularly after having eaten or been in contact with poultry — seeking prompt medical advice, examination, and treatment at a healthcare facility is strongly advised.

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