Published Date: 2004-01-16 23:50:00
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Avian influenza - Eastern Asia (02)
Archive Number: 20040116.0176
AVIAN INFLUENZA - EASTERN ASIA (02)
A ProMED-mail post
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International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2004
From: ProMED-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org> Source: EU press release DN:
IP/04/64, 16 Jan 2004 [edited]
European Commission offers help in avian influenza crisis to Viet Nam
The European Commission today offered assistance to the Viet Nam Government
in dealing with all aspects of the avian influenza (AI) crisis in the
country in response to the World Health Organization's appeal for support.
European health commissioner David Byrne, on an official visit to the
country today, said after his meetings with vice prime minister Mr Vu
Khoanm and vice-minister of health Mr Tran Chi Liem, "I am pleased to
announce that the EU will be able to help the Vietnamese people in their
efforts to combat the quickly spreading avian influenza. European experts
with outstanding knowledge and expertise are available to travel to Viet
Nam over the coming days to assist with the investigation into the human
and animal health problems. In 2003 the EU was itself hit by a major
outbreak of Avian influenza, and having gone through that experience, I
understand fully the challenges facing Vietnam."
The commission and the member states are responding to a call from WHO for
support. The experts are available to help Vietnamese health authorities in
the investigation and containment of human cases of avian influenza,
including epidemiological investigation of the pattern of transmission or
advice on hospital infection control measures. They would also support the
Vietnamese authorities in their efforts to reduce the risk of transmission
of avian influenza from animals to humans, including advice on control
measures to protect people exposed to possible infected animals from disease.
AI is a highly contagious viral infection of poultry which, depending on
the species, can cause major losses to the poultry industry. Due to natural
resistance, free-living birds may carry influenza viruses without becoming
ill. It is known that wild waterfowl present a natural reservoir for these
viruses and can be responsible for the primary introduction of infection
into domestic poultry. AI is listed by the Office International des
Epizooties (OIE) as a list A disease capable of spreading rapidly,
irrespective of national borders. The disease may have serious
socioeconomic consequences with disruption of international trade in live
poultry and poultry products.
The EU does not import any poultry from Vietnam, South Korea, or Japan --
the countries currently hit by an outbreak.
Although the transmission of avian influenza to humans has happened only on
a few occasions, mostly causing conjunctivitis and milder forms of
influenza-like illness, 6 fatal cases (out of 18 reported infected people)
occurred in 1997 in Hong Kong from subtype H5N1. In early 2003, 3 people
infected with the same subtype died. During the Dutch epidemic in 2003, one
veterinarian died due to infection with avian influenza of subtype H7N7.
Human infections via poultry products -- for example, meat or table eggs --
have never been reported, and direct contact with infected birds is the
main source of infection for humans.
Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2004
From: ProMED-mail <email@example.com>
Source: Reuters alertnet, 16 Jan 2004 [edited]
Flu takes chicken off Vietnam new year menus
Tuan is in a quandary. As the days tick down to Vietnam's most important
celebration, Tet or the Lunar New Year, the Hanoi resident said his wife
doesn't know whether it's safe to serve the traditional chicken dish. "It
would be the first Tet that we don't eat it," he said, as Vietnam struggles
to contain a bird flu outbreak that has seen nearly 2 million chickens
culled or killed by the virus.
At least 18 people may have been infected with avian flu in Vietnam. 12 of
those have died, with 3 confirmed bird flu cases. All were from the north,
while the poultry epidemic has been raging in 7 northern and southern
On Friday, Vietnam took its strongest measures to quell the outbreak,
banning all chicken sales in southern Ho Chi Minh City, home to some 10
million people. A check of public markets in the city on Friday found no
chickens, alive or dead, for sale.
Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Hanoi have
advised consumers to avoid contact with live poultry, and stay away from
areas contaminated with poultry feces. But the CDC added in an email sent
out to American citizens living in Hanoi: "Eating cooked chicken poses no
known health hazard relating to avian flu."
In Ho Chi Minh City, Kentucky Fried Chicken, which runs Vietnam's only
major fast-food restaurants, has said it will import frozen chickens to
replace local supplies. A lone customer was seen on Friday morning at one
of its busiest downtown shops. In Hanoi, far from the bird flu outbreak,
chicken has disappeared from some upscale restaurants, including those run
by the ritzy Metropole hotel. Chicken is still available on the country's
flagship carrier, Vietnam Airlines, although passengers are turning wary.
On a recent Vietnam Airlines flight from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, one
businessman chose shrimp instead of chicken for lunch. "I've stopped eating
chicken because of the bird flu," the Ho Chi Minh City resident said. Among
Hanoi's local residents, chickens are still being sold and eaten with gusto
despite the deaths from avian flu of 2 children and a woman in the capital
Apparently driven by fear of shortages, buyers were also seen snapping up
live chickens at a downtown market in Hanoi on Friday, some buying several
at a time. But business has fallen off for Hieu Hau, who has sold cooked
poultry and pork at Hanoi's Hom market for 18 years."As the Tet nears,
companies often buy chickens for parties, but this year nobody did so.
Nobody dares to place orders. They are afraid," she told Reuters Television.
[byline: Christina Toh-Pantin]
Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2004
From: ProMED-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Source: The Nation, Bangkok, 16 Jan 2004 [edited]
Avian flu poses greater risk than SARS: WHO
As the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that the bird flu virus has
the potential to be far more serious than SARS, many Asian countries,
including Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore, have imposed bans on
imports of chicken products to curb the outbreak.
"If the H5N1 [avian influenza] virus attaches itself to the common human
flu virus, and if it is then effectively transmitted, it has the potential
to cause widespread damage," Peter Cordingley, the spokesman at the
Manila-based WHO regional office, said.
The H5N1 virus killed 6 of 18 of the people who fell sick in Hong Kong in
1997 and at least 3 -- possibly 12 -- deaths in Vietnam since October 2003
have been linked to the virus. Cordingley said the WHO expected more deaths
in Vietnam to be due to the H5N1 virus. He said that one of 2 young
children with the flu symptoms was in a critical condition in hospital.
"The common human flu virus is far more infectious than the SARS virus and
can be spread by aerosol and not just through droplets, as in the case of
the SARS virus," Cordingley explained.
To prevent more spreading of the bird flu, Malaysia, Singapore, the
Philippines, China and Vietnam yesterday declared bans on imports of
chicken products. Malaysia's ban covered frozen poultry products from Asian
countries. "We don't want to take any risks," consultant for Poultry Sales
Lee Chong May told the Malay-language Berita Harian after receiving the ban
orders from the government. Singapore meanwhile has banned some Thai
poultry imports after an outbreak of fowl cholera in Thailand killed more
than 200 000 chickens, but the majority of trade will not be affected, the
government said [See comment]. Imports of live birds, day-old chicks, whole
frozen poultry, and offal are banned, but poultry cuts and parts are still
allowed into Singapore, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority said late on
Wednesday in a statement issued to media. The government said more than 99
per cent of the chicken imported from Thailand was in the form of parts and
would not be affected by the ban.
Vietnam has banned the transport and trade of chickens in 18 provinces in
the Mekong Delta. Chicken farmers have been told to avoid contact with each
other in an effort to control the epidemic that has killed at least 1.2
million birds, but no people in the south of the country, said Nguyen Duy
Long, the director of the epidemic disease prevention board of Long An
The Philippines is to ban imports of poultry products from Vietnam and
Japan as a precautionary measure to prevent the entry of bird flu, an
agriculture official said. This will expand a ban on the import of poultry
from South Korea imposed in December 2003 after bird flu was detected
there, animal industry director Jose Molina said. The ban is to take effect
today [Fri 16 Jan 2004], but will likely have no effect on supply. The
Philippines gets most of its poultry imports from the United States,
Canada, and Australia.
Apart from the Philippines, China has banned imports of live poultry and
related products from Asian countries affected by avian influenza, state
media said yesterday. Poultry imports from Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, and
other unspecified countries are covered by the ban, the Beijing Youth Daily
quoted agriculture ministry officials as saying. Poultry already imported
from flu-affected areas will be returned to the country of origin or
destroyed, it said.
[The Thai authorities insisted that the mass mortality in chickens was due
to pasteurellosis, not influenza; see 20040109.0097. Another article in
today's (16 Jan 2003) "The Nation" says a consumer group is claiming that
millions of chickens in Thailand "have died or been slaughtered as the
result of disease that might be bird flu". It continues, "Deputy
Agriculture Minister Newin Chidchob, who has insisted Thailand is free of
bird flu, called the urgent meeting of chief livestock officials. He
advised them that they should move to register all poultry farms in their
areas within 2 weeks, collect samples for lab tests, and prevent the
movement of sick chickens".