Animal Health officials have reported finding H5N1 virus in a small duck farm in the southern province of Ben Tre in Vietnam.
An animal health official from Thach Phu district, Ben Tre province said, "we have received laboratory confirmation that the ducks had the H5N1 virus." All 84 ducks on the farm were immediately culled following the findings; however, ducks from 14 nearby farms tested negative for the virus.
The official said that no one in nearby villages was sick from the disease and added that the source of the virus was unknown. The country has been free of human bird flu cases since December even though new outbreaks of the deadly H5N1 virus has been reported in the neighboring countries of Laos, China and Thailand.
The official said, "what we know so far is that the ducks were raised in a closed farm and had not been let out in the open for quite some time." A new subtype of H5 mainly affecting ducks and wild storks had recently resurfaced in Vietnam in the past month, but no human cases have been reported so far.
Although the virus remains essentially an animal disease, public health officials have told countries such as Vietnam that the virus can return at any time and cause a pandemic if it mutates into a form that can pass easily among people.
According the U.N.'s World Health Organization 141 people worldwide has so far died from avian flu. After the virus reemerged in late 2003, Indonesia reported most deaths due to the virus with 46 people dying from the disease while 42 have died due to the deadly virus in Vietnam.