The United Nations’ health agency has called for heightened control measures against bird flu in Vietnam following reports of a new human case.
In a statement, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that coming Lunar New Year in February creates favourable condition for the spread of the disease as consumption of poultry increased during the period leading up to the celebration.
The WHO noted that the latest reported case was the first detected in Vietnam since early September and coincided with several fresh poultry outbreaks reported in southern provinces of the country in December.
The WHO has warned several times over the past year of the potential evolution of the virus into a human pandemic which, in the worst scenario, could have a devastatingly deadly result.
Since January 2004, 28 human cases have been detected in Vietnam. Of these, 20 were fatal.
Thailand has also reported human cases, bringing the total in Asia for 2004 to 45 cases, of which 32 have been fatal. The outbreaks resulted in the deaths or culling of more than 100 million birds.