After repeatedly declaring many of its provinces free of Bird-flu, the Government of Vietnam has been forced to admit that H5N1 had been found in some of the Bird-Flu-free provinces.
A Country or a province in a Country is declared bird flu-free after it goes 21 consecutive days without a new case, according to the ministry.
Last week the Government of Vietnam finally informed the global community of nations, that “only three provinces are still plagued by bird flu – Dien Bien in the north, Quang Binh in the center and Dong Thap in the Mekong Delta region.”
That was of course before Bird flu has killed a Vietnamese woman who was seven months pregnant, who died in Ha Tay one of the Bird-flu-Free provinces!
She died in the Bach Mai hospital in Hanoi after being admitted from a farm in the northern province of Ha Tay, the largest poultry supplier to the country’s capital.
A doctor in Ha Tay province says there are no bird flu outbreaks in the area where she lived.
Her death brings the death toll in the country to three in less than two months.
Two people — a 20-year-old man and a 28-year-old woman — died in June of avian influenza, the first fatalities announced since November 2005.
Since May, six human cases have been reported here, three of them fatal.
This entire Bird-Flu-free and not Bird-flu-free drama has been played out by the Vietnamese Government, as if it was a Monty Python sketch.
(The following may not have taken place exactly as described below, but as Monty Python could well have plated it. The overall effect would be the same though.)
“We have got another one!” The Big Vietnemese Government Boss would shout “From today, at 3 PM exactly, Province number 9 is Bird-Flu-Free!”
A little later, some one would hesitantly whisper “ Sir, Bird-Flu has been found again in the province number 9″
“What! Number 9 again?” the Big Boss official would thunder, “OK then, the ### Number 9 Province is NOT Bird-Flu-Free at this time”
“Mind you, the province number 9 is free of TB, Cholera and Malaria and many other deadly deceases. It just has a little bit of Bird-flu at this time”
And so on.
It was almost funny to see a Government behave in that way.
I say funny, but you know what I mean.
As I have been saying in this blog for a while, the World Governing bodies such as WHO were apparently OK with this nutty rule of declaring a country free of Bird-Flu, if no new cases were found for a period of 21 days.
Even worse is the rule of declaring a part of a country, such as a province to be bird flu free, if there have been no new cases of the H5N1 found in that particular province.
I ask you, since there are no custom checks or travel restrictions between provinces, how can a province be guaranteed to be free of infection, if the bordering province has H5N1 in its poultry and more importantly, in its wild birds?
The WHO folks have not replied to repeated requests for an explanation for their silence/acquiescence with this less than honest practice.
I had requested a comment from what I consider to be the two top blogs in this subject area, Effect Measure and H5N1 Croftsblogs, to comment on this mad situation.
Did not get a response from Effect Mesure.
Crawford Kilian of the H5N1 did reply.
He is a kind soul and a gentle one at that.
So while he seemed to be able to see the basic problem with the 21 day rule, he did not use his understated, but universally acknowledged authority in any way, to put pressure on the related institutions to rectify or at the very least re examine the this situation.
I would like to ask WHO and all of the great and powerful people, who had such a good time at the Pandemic flu SUMMIT, to re examine the 21 day rule for a country to be declared free of Bird-flu.
More importantly the option to declare part of a country free of Bird-flu needs to be urgently revisited.
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