The Ministry of Health’s Preventive Health Department has warned of a high risk of avian influenza A/H7N9 outbreaks in Vietnam.

Tran Dac Phu, Director of the department said at a conference in Hanoi on January 28 that while there has been no report of H7N9 in either humans or poultry in Vietnam, the risk is huge because China’s Guangdong province, where 11 cases have been confirmed, is a favourite destination for Vietnamese travellers and traders.

He added that H7N9 does not show any signs in poultry and that its presence can only be discovered by taking samples from birds for testing.

The health sector will intensify border-crossing checks for H7N9 and other strains of fowl influenza viruses in the winter-spring season, and especially in the days up to Tet (Lunar New Year), he said

"All equipment, drugs and task forces now get ready for the fight," he affirmed.

Earlier, the ministry warned individuals not to use poultry or poultry products with unclear origins; immediately report ill or dead poultry to local authorities or veterinarian facilities; and seek timely medical care if experiencing fever, cough, chest pain or breathing difficulties.

According to the WHO, there is a high possibility of additional infection cases in humans during the winter-spring season and could result in an outbreak.

The announcement advises those travelling to countries with known avian influenza outbreaks to avoid poultry farms, areas where poultry is slaughtered, or contact with animals in live bird markets, or contact with any surfaces that appear to be contaminated with faeces from poultry or other animals.

The WHO recommends practicing frequent hand washing with soap and following food safety regulations.-VNA