"In recent days the Animal Health Department has received many reports about poultry dying in large numbers in provinces," the Agriculture Ministry-run department said in a report on its Web site (www.dah.gov.vn).
The H5N1 strain of bird flu killed three men in northern Vietnam between Jan. 18 and Feb. 14 during a record-long cold spell. The H5N1 virus seems to thrive best in cool temperatures.
The department, in a separate report, said that bird flu has killed nearly 2,500 ducks and chickens in the northern provinces of Hai Duong , Nam Dinh and Tuyen Quang, bringing to seven the provinces on the government's bird flu watch list. Animal health workers have slaughtered the remaining 1,900 birds at the three infected farms.
Doctors reported at the weekend that a 7-year-old child from the northern province of Hai Duong had the virus. The child has been under treatment in Hanoi along with several suspected cases. Bird flu has killed 50 people in Vietnam out of 106 infected cases since late 2003. Officials said they have not been able to prevent poultry smuggling from northern neighbor China , which reported its latest human death on Monday, bringing its toll to 18.
H5N1 remains mainly a virus of birds, but experts fear it could mutate into a form easily transmitted from person to person and sweep the world, possibly killing millions.
The virus is known to have killed 227 people globally since late 2003, according to the World Health Organisation, not including the latest death in China and two cases in Indonesia in recent days.
Impact on human society.
There has been a huge impact of H5N1 on human society; especially the financial, political, social and personal responses to both actual and predicted deaths in birds, humans, and other animals.
Billions of U.S. dollars are being raised and spent to research H5N1 and prepare for a potential avian influenza pandemic. Over ten billion dollars have been lost and over two hundred million birds have been killed to try to contain H5N1.
People have reacted by buying less chicken causing poultry sales and prices to fall. Many individuals have stockpiled supplies for a possible flu pandemic. One of the best known experts on H5N1, Dr. Robert Webster, told ABC News he had a three month supply of food and water in his house as he prepared for what he considered a reasonably likely occurrence of a major pandemic.
International health officials and other experts have pointed out that many unknown questions still hover around the disease.