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Farmers fear new bird flu outbreak

Many afraid their flocks will be destroyed for a second year running

ucanews.com reporter, Ha Tinh

ucanews.com reporter, Ha Tinh

Updated: February 16, 2012 08:23 AM GMT
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Farmers fear new bird flu outbreak
Van Niem's flock of ducks

Many farmers are voicing concern after the government announced this week a series of reported bird flu outbreaks across the country. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Veterinary Department issued a warning on Tuesday saying that: “Outbreaks of bird flu have been rapidly spreading in nine provinces and in a major city.” The department said the H5N1 strain has the potential to spread further because of a shortage of vaccines against the virus which seems to have mutated into a more resistant form. Unusual weather patterns and the movement of poultry from one place to another have also contributed to the spread of the virus the department said. Joseph Nguyen Van Niem, who rears ducks in Du Loc parish in Ha Tinh province, said he is extremely worried about his 650 birds as he has no access to a vaccine. Ha Tinh is one of the provinces named by the veterinary department as being affected by the bird-flu virus. “It will only take five of them to be infected for the whole flock to be destroyed,” Niem said. He said his flock is his only source of income and he took out a 15-million-dong (US$720) loan from the bank to buy the birds. Niem said he was forced to take out the loan after a similar outbreak last year resulted in his flock of 500 ducks being destroyed. There was no compensation from the government either, he said. Another farmer, Mai Xuan Co, has moved his 300 chickens to a nearby forest to try and protect them from the virus. Like Niem, he said he was forced to take out a bank loan after his flock of birds was wiped out last year. So far this year 4,000 birds have been destroyed in Ha Tinh province after testing positive for H5N1. The virus also killed two people last month -- an 18-year-old duck farmer in Kien Giang province and a 26-year-old pregnant woman from Soc Trang.  

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