Health authorities in Vietnam confirmed Wednesday the possibility that a resident of a province in the north of the country could have contracted the lethal H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus, for the first time since 2005.
A fresh outbreak of bird flu has hit five provinces in Vietnam. A 30-year-old man tested positive for lethal H5N1 strain after being hospitalized in serious condition.
If the diagnosis is confirmed, the resident of the Vinh Phuc province with population of about 1.1 million will be the first victim of the virus in 14 months, deputy Health Minister Trinh Quan Huan said.
Earlier reports said poultry, mainly un-vaccinated ducks had been found to be infected with the H5N1 strain in the southern province of Can Tho, as well as Son La, Quang Ninh and Nam Dinh in the north, and in the central province of Nghe an.
Around 2,000 birds have died in the five provinces over the past week. Authorities in the country say about 117 million birds have so far been vaccinated.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), bird flu has killed 185 people around the world since late 2003. The second hardest-hit country after Indonesia is Vietnam, where 93 human bird flu cases have been registered and the death toll hit 42. Vietnam suffered damage worth $200 million, as over 40 million domestic birds died of the virus or were culled.
Japan, the European Union, and the World Bank pledged in April to allocate $35 million for Vietnam to fight bird flu and prevent a new pandemic in the country.