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Health Officials Agree on Stronger Bird Flu Monitoring

A raw blood dish is displayed with cooked entrails at a restaurant in Hanoi April 28, 2009. Frozen pudding from fresh duck or pig blood is a popular dish in the Southeast Asian country although duck blood is less consumed following bird flu outbreaks that have killed at least 55 Vietnamese since late 2003.
Cambodian and Vietnamese officials say they are prepared to take stronger measures to monitor the region for avian influenza, following two days of talks.

Efforts include close monitoring of the economic trade of fowl and better information sharing at border crossings, officials said.

Bird flu has killed 14 Cambodians and 63 Vietnamese since its initial outbreak in 2013, making them the worst-hit countries in Southeast Asia.

Health officials worry the H5N1 virus behind the disease could mutate, allowing it to spread from human to human and to create a global pandemic.

Discussion included monitoring the “value chain” of ducks, “active information sharing” at borders and better education and communication about the disease, said Lotfi Allal, team leader for the Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Diseases at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

Bird flu remains a concern at the international level and a concern of national governments, he said.

Mai Van Hiep, deputy director general for the animal health department of Vietnam’s Agriculture Ministry, said both sides had agreed to establish an area for prevention and control of the disease.

That will include “sharing information about the disease, to put animal cross-border movements under control and to engage publish awareness about the threat of H5N1,” he said.