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Avian Flu in Vietnam

The risk of Avian Flu in Vietnam is addressed in this interview with Marc Siegel, author of the book, "Bird Flu : Everything You Need to Know About the Next Pandemi".

Interview By Allison Martin

What is Asian Flu, and why are people so worried about it?

Avian flu H5N1 is a bird flu virus that has been around for many years, and has been difficult to control in birds and so has recurred in several countries in Asia, including Vietnam. The chances of humans acquiring it are extremely low. Of the 104 deaths and just over 200 proven cases since 1997, almost all have occurred in people with a lot of contact with birds. People are worried about the virus mutating to a form that could pass easily human to human, which could cause a pandemic, but no one knows the likelihood of this occurring, and the good news is it has not occurred despite significant outbreaks in birds. This may signal that this virus doesn't have the capacity to become a human flu, and two recent studies show it still to be several changes away.

What are the risks for travelers to Vietnam or Asia in regards to Bird Flu?

Almost zero. None from travelling there. None from eating fully cooked chicken. There may be a very very slight risk from handling live or killed poultry before cooking or playing closely with ducks or other birds in areas where there have been outbreaks, but even this risk is extremely low.

What precautions should prospective adoptive parents take when traveling to or adoption from Asia?

I would say none are required. I would avoid direct handling of live birds in areas of outbreak just as a precaution, and don't try to bring live birds or dead poultry back to the U.S., but the risk of a traveller acquiring bird flu from a trip to Asia are very very close to zero.


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