Initial testing showed that 71 percent of ducks and 21.4 percent of chickens in Vietnam's 11 southern localities in the Mekong Delta are infected with bird flu virus strain H5.
Up to 80 percent of 2,000 samples taken from ducks raised in Can Tho city alone, which is home to some 1.5 million poultry, were tested positive to H5, local newspaper Youth on Wednesday quoted recent tests by the country's Regional Veterinarian Centeras saying.
The situation poses challenges to many localities, because a great number of ducks are raised freely in fields and canals in the delta, which can spread the disease from province to province. Moreover, many local farmers protest the forced culling, saying that their ducks are totally healthy, and not yet confirmed to contract the deadly virus H5N1.
On April 1, Vietnam started a month-long campaign to clean up poultry farms nationwide, in a move to stamp out bird flu, which has hit 35 cities and provinces nationwide since January. Thirty-three localities have so far detected no new affected spots in their territory for three weeks, meeting the country's criteria to announce an end to the disease.
Vietnam has reported 35 human cases of bird flu infection since December 2004, of whom 16 have died. To minimize the infection, it has intensified publicity, urging local people not to eat dishes made from raw duck blood, slaughter sick poultry for meal, and contact fowls without protective gears.