Bird flu, which has hit Vietnam's three southern provinces since early last month, is likely to strike the central and northern regions, local media reported Wednesday.
The risk of bird flu appearing in the two central provinces of Quang Nam and Quang Ngai, and the three northern localities of Bac Giang, Hai Phong and Thai Binh is apparent, Saigon Liberation newspaper quoted Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Bui Ba Bong as saying.
The risk is more obvious in the two central provinces since most of samples from healthy fowls there have been tested positive to bird flu virus strain H5N1, he said at the meeting of the Central Steering Committee for Bird Flu Prevention and Fight on Tuesday, noting that bird flu surveillance systems in some localities are weak, fowl vaccination in a few central provinces is not complete, and illegal poultry trade and smuggling in some localities is rampant.
According to the committee, bird flu has, since December 2005, hit 26 communes in 12 districts in the three provinces of Ca Mau, Bac Lieu and Hau Giang. It has killed some 6,000 poultry, and led to the forced culling of nearly 23,000 others, mainly ducks and chickens.
Amid recent outbreaks, the agriculture ministry is considering the possibility of extending the existing national ban on hatching waterfowls which is to expire on Feb. 28, the newspaper said.
Eleven Vietnamese ministers have been assigned to go to 35 cities and provinces nationwide to offer anti-bird flu directions and inspect relevant activities there. Their trips will last till the end of March.
Bird flu outbreaks, starting in Vietnam in December 2003, have killed and led to the forced culling of dozens of millions of fowls in the country.