News update:Feb 3, 2010

Boy dies of bird flu in Vietnam

A Vietnamese health ministry official announced yesterday that a four-year-old boy had died of bird flu, becoming the country's fifth victim of the H5N1 viral strain reported in 2007.

The child from Moc Chau in the mountainous northern Son La province died in a Hanoi children's hospital on December 16. He had apparently eaten some chicken and his family had reported some dead chickens around their home in recent times.

Five people are confirmed to have died of the virus in Vietnam this year, according to newsagency AFP .

In addition, bird flu has again affected poultry in southern Vietnam with around 1,000 ducks having been slaughtered last week on a farm in the Tra Vinh province.

World Health Organisation (WHO) Vietnam representative Jean-Marc Olive commented that the onset of cold and wet winter weather is now creating a favourable climate for the spread of respiratory diseases.

"Communicating that sick animals should not be eaten is a big challenge in rural areas where the greatest danger lies in preparation of the meat", said Olive.

Vietnam's Health Ministry are warning the public to only buy poultry of known origins ahead of the traditional Tet Lunar New Year festival in February, when poultry sales and consumption are expected to rise sharply.

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