[editing is mine]
Published Date: 2012-09-10
A new bird flu strain is developing unexpectedly in Viet Nam and causing great concern to the government and public.
According to the National Animal Health Diagnosis Center, the new
strain of bird flu virus, which is suspected to have higher risk of
causing human death than previously known ones [see comment], appeared
in July 2012 and widely spread in August 2012 in Viet Nam’s 7 central
and northern provinces.
Hoang Van Nam, head of Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
(MARD)’s Animal Health Department, said that this virus, thought to
belong to H5N1 Clade 188.8.131.52, is different from the 2 strains of A and B
that appeared in Viet Nam in 2011, due to its higher pathogenic risk
According to the department, as of 6 Sep 2012, the new virus strain
has attacked 7 central and northern cities and provinces, including Hai
Phong, Thanh Hoa, Ha Tinh, Ninh Binh, Nam Dinh, Bac Can and Quang Ngai,
and over 180 000 infected poultry have been culled so far this year
Apart from the newly-found strain of the virus, the bird flu has
developed unexpectedly in the country so far this year . Normally,
avian influenza appears shortly before or after the traditional lunar
Tet holidays (which often fall in late January and early February).
However, it has appeared since July this year  and spread fast
without warning. In the Central Highlands’ Dak Lak province, about 30
influenza epidemic spots were found in only one day.
According to local experts, the epidemic will become more complicated once it reaches its peak in the coming months.
MARD has instructed the department to strictly supervise the import
of poultry, especially breeding chicks, which are believed to make the
suspected new strain virus spread faster [Are imported breeding chicks
(from where?) suspected of introducing infection or of being excessively
susceptible to local infection? Clarification will help. - Mod.AS].
Meanwhile, according to the Central Epidemic Prevention Institute,
since August last year , the UN Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO) has warned of the change of the virus A/H5N1. Clade 2.3.2 is in
many Asian countries, including Viet Nam, and that change is usual
during the natural evolution of the virus.
“This is a small change of the virus that creates a new strain, not
yet a new virus. However, close supervision of the virus which is
spreading among poultry should be taken so as to discover its change and
set forth an appropriate strategy to fight the epidemic and protect
human health,” the Institute Director Nguyen Tran Hien told local media
late last week.
“Through strict supervision on human flu infected cases, we found
nothing unusual. The most concern is that the virus A/H5N1 is spreading
among poultry, and it can continue to have small changes, re-arrange the
gene, and reunite with virus circulated among animals and human beings
to become a new, highly-toxic strain and transmissible to human beings,”
He also suggested the veterinary sector closely cooperate with the
health service to enhance supervision on the avian flu among poultry and
human beings as well as apply preventive measures so as to prevent the
spreading of the disease among poultry and from poultry to human beings.
As of 6 Sep 2012 [since the beginning of 2012], 4 [human] cases of
A/H5N1 infection have been recorded with 2 deaths in Viet Nam, but the
new strain of bird flu virus has not yet been found in humans, reported
[The above report, from Chinese sources, adds complementary information to posting 20120908.1286497.
We are indebted to Joseph P. Dudley, Ph.D. for the following comment,
following the information included in posting 20120909.1287382:
"The cross-border smuggling trade in spent layers [hens] between
China and Viet Nam is huge, highly sophisticated, and has been going on
for at least a decade and probably longer.
The spent layer trade may have played a significant role in the H5N1
outbreaks in Turkey during 2006, and may potentially be [or] have been a
major enabling factor in the establishment and proliferation of H5N1 in
The statement included in the above Xinhua report, arguing that the
new strain of bird flu virus “is suspected to have higher risk of
causing human death than previously known ones” is not supported by
evidence and is in need of substantiation.
According to WHO data, since 2003, Viet Nam has suffered 123 human
cases of H5N1, of which 61 died. Most of the cases occurred during
2004/5. – Mod.AS