Thousands of ducks and chickens were slaughtered in Vietnam as the government put its best foot forward to control an outbreak of bird flu.
Poultry is a favoured dish for feasts during Tet, the Vietnamese new year that begins Sunday, and authorities are moving to try to stop the potentially deadly disease spreading to people in six of the country's provinces.
In the worst-affected province of Ha Tinh, in central Vietnam, more than 14,000 chickens and ducks have been slaughtered after almost 3,600 were found contaminated, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said on its website.
The outbreak in Ha Tinh began on January 15, it said. Five other provinces across the country have also recorded cases.
Cao Duc Phat, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, asked local authorities last week to reinforce measures against the H5N1 virus before, during and after Tet, the website said.
The state Vietnam News on Wednesday quoted another ministry official as saying there is a high risk of bird flu's spreading in the centre of the country and the southern Mekong Delta around Tet because more animals would be transported and slaughtered.
Vietnam's last human fatality from bird flu, the fifth of 2009, came in December.
According to the World Health Organization, Vietnam's human bird flu death toll of 57 is the world's second-highest after Indonesia.