In the first three months of the year, 487 incidences were reported in China, including 99 fatalities, according to the Ministry of Health.
As of March 21, the A (H7N9) virus had not infected either poultry or people in Vietnam, but it could break out if preventive methods are not carried out well.
The HCM City People’s Committee, for instance, has issued an action plan for the prevention throughout the city this year.
In the plan, the municipal People’s Committee has instructed the Food Safety and Hygiene Management Board to take the initiative in co-operating with agencies to strengthen supervision and inspection of poultry at canteens in industrial parks and export processing zones, schools, restaurants, and food stores in the city.
Violators who use or sell poultry without label of origin will be fined, the committee said.
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is expected to work with local authorities and other agencies on the surveillance of transport, trade, consumption and import of poultry.
As of now, the illegal trading of poultry has occurred at 159 sites, according to the committee.
Ha Tan Vinh, from the Can Tho Department of Health’s medical affairs division, told the Viet Nam News Agency that the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development had devised a plan on the use of vaccines against avian influenza.
The free vaccine provision will be divided into three phases, including one from February 15 to March 5, the second from June 15 to July 5, and the last from October 1 to 10.
In Ca Mau province, Nguyen Thanh Dan, head of the province’s Preventive Health Centre, said that training and preventive methods against avian influenza has been carried out well.
Dan said the province has warned farmers to take preventive methods against the virus.
In mid-March, the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development organised a drill for A/H7N9 prevention in Lang Son province and Hanoi.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has also banned the illegal import of poultry through border gates.
He said that people from A/H7N9 virus-affected countries such as China should be under close surveillance at the border gates.
If the presence of A/H7N9 virus is detected at markets, solutions to eradicate contaminated food should be implemented.
In 2013, the A/H7N9 virus was found in animals and people in China, according to the World Health Organisation.
This strain of avian influenza is of concern because infected people have become severely ill.
Most of the cases of human infection with the A/H7N9 virus have reported recent exposure to live poultry or potentially contaminated environments, especially markets where live birds have been sold.
This virus does not appear to transmit easily from person to person.
Since February 2013, 1,230 incidences of avian influenza A/H7N9 in China, Canada and Malaysia have been reported, including 428 fatalities, according to the Department of Animal Health under Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Trinh Hung Cuong, deputy head of the Animal Health and Husbandry Agency, said that Hau Giang province faced difficulties in inspection and monitoring of transporting and selling chickens because of a shortage of personnel.
The province lacks funds to hire people to provide vaccinations against influenza in poultry.
The weather had become hotter in the daytime, but colder at night, Cuong said, adding that the temperature difference had contributed to lowering the resistance of chickens to viruses.
Small chicken breeding farms are common in the province.
Many people in the districts of Long My, Vi Thuy and Chau Thanh A breed free range chickens without asking permission from local authorities, according to Cuong.
The chickens have not been vaccinated as required.
Moreover, in the case of influenza outbreak among chickens, farmers have not reported cases to local authorities. They often kill and throw the chickens into the river, leading to an increase in the risk of transmission.
At a conference held last month in Can Tho, Nguyen Ngoc He, head of the Can Tho Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that breeding ducks under a free range model in rice fields was common in the city.
Districts and wards in the city have not paid sufficient attention to the management of breeding and implementation of preventive methods, He said.