The health sector of the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai are working closely with the local veterinary sector and authorities to eradicate the A/H5N6 influenza virus strain.

The avian flu strain was recently detected in a flock of red pheasants raised in Pho Lu town, making Lao Cai the third Vietnamese locality affected by A/H5N6, after the northern province of Lang Son, on the border with China, and the central province of Ha Tinh, on the border with Laos.

Communication efforts have also been increased to raise public awareness of how to prevent the transmission of H5N6 from fowls to humans.

The Ministry of Health’s Department of Preventive Medicine has recently ordered Lao Cai to prepare for the virus since it had led to human deaths in China’s Sichuan province.

To prevent the poultry-to-human transmission of A/H5N6, the department asked Lao Cai’s veterinary and human health sectors to disinfect breeding grounds; to closely observe risk areas, particularly poultry farms and markets; and strictly punish the illegal transportation of poultry.

The province, which shares a 203.5km long border with China, was also requested prepare for possible exposure to A/H5N6 and send samples taken from patients with acute respiratory diseases and pneumonia to the Hanoi-based National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology for testing.
Vietnam has not recorded any A/H5N6 patients so far.

According to the World Health Organisation, A/H5N6 is a highly pathogenic strain, but there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission, despite occasional reports of apparent cases of contagion within families.-VNA