A key task of the animal health sector this year is to avert disease epidemics among livestock, poultry and aquatic products, especially bird flu, blue-ear, foot-and-mouth, and other animal-to-human diseases, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vu Van Tam announced at a conference reviewing the Department of Animal Health’s 2014 performance and determining its tasks for 2015 in Hanoi on January 23.

As the Lunar New Year holiday approaches, he asked the department to continue maintaining epidemic-free breeding zones and inspecting units at the grassroots level to facilitate early detections of any violations.

He also admitted that the capability of the animal care network and the breeding skills of farmers across the country still fall short of expectations.

Pham Van Dong, head of the department said that while bird flu and blue-ear hotbeds have been brought under control, foot-and-mouth outbreaks spread across six communes in the northern mountainous province of Son La.

A bird-flu outbreak is expected in the Mekong Delta this year, especially around breeding areas and wet markets.

In 2014, white spot disease, acute hepatopancreatic necrosis syndrome, and environmental pollution impacted over 59,500 hectares of brackish-water shrimp.

So far, 21 cities and provinces nationwide have developed strategies to control possible epidemic threats and outbreaks.-VNA