As bird flu spreads its tentacles far and wide, it has become paramount for health officials to follow the example of Vietnam and Thailand in containing the virus. Vietnam was the worst hit with 93 human cases and 42 deaths, but this tiny country has successfully contained the virus and no new human cases have been reported since November last year.
Hans Troedsson, director of the WHO in Hanoi said that Vietnam has been able to set an example that other Third World countries can follow. "If you had asked me six months ago I would have said we were certain to see new cases of avian flu from December to March in Vietnam which is the cold season when we know flu viruses circulate. Also it was the Tet holiday [Chinese New Year] last month when millions of people return to their families, and chicken is eaten and we feared an outbreak," Dr Troedsson was quoted as telling the Independent. "It is not inevitable that it has to be H5N1. I am cautiously optimistic - more than I was two years ago - that [a human pandemic] won't be caused by H5N1 because countries like Hong Kong, Vietnam and Thailand have been able to contain it." However he cautioned that the H5N1 virus was certainly resident in Vietnam and monitoring was still very necessary to contain it.