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Emergency preparedness for H7N9 introduction to Viet Nam

Emergency preparedness for H7N9 introduction to Viet Nam


The Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Viet Nam organized a mission from 16 to 25 April 2018 to enhance Viet Nam’s emergency preparedness for a possible H7N9 incursion and its capacity to rapidly detect and respond to a positive case. The mission also assessed FAO’s capacity to provide support to Viet Nam for preparedness and response. The global mission team included emergency preparedness and management experts from the FAO Emergency Management Center for Animal Health (EMC-AH), a senior procurement expert from FAO Head Quarters, the FAORAP ECTAD regional manager and an international operations officer from the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (FAORAP), technical and operation coordinators from FAO ECTAD Viet Nam and an officer from the Department of Animal Health (DAH). The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded the mission with additional support from the Australia Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

The team met with the DAH leader and officers to discuss the national H7N9 action plan and concur on the emergency response objectives and FAO’s assistance for responding to a possible incursion of H7N9 in live bird markets (LBMs) where DAH and FAO are conducting H7N9 surveillance with a cutting-edge diagnosis technology called Pen-side PCR. The Pen-side PCR test is performed by animal quarantine staff at the market and results are available within three hours after collection. Similar surveillance is being conducted in other 13 LBM in Lang Son, Quang Ninh, Cao Bang and Lao Cai, where there is high risk of H7N9 introduction. If H7N9 is detected in these LBMs, the objectives of H7N9 response are to; 1) contain the outbreak, 2) if possible, eliminate the virus from Viet Nam and 3) prevent human infection.

The team also visited four LBMs in Ha Noi, Lang Son and Quang Ninh provinces, met with market management boards, Sub-Departments of Livestock Production and Animal Health (SDLAH), quarantine officers responsible for surveillance and response, to assess the level of preparedness, and capacity for immediate response at LBMs. Although provinces have their own contingency plans, the lack of detailed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for market closure, culling and disinfection at provincial and market level might limit the performance of the roles and responsibilities in both emergency preparedness and response to H7N9 outbreaks.

“In order to effectively contain the outbreak, it is critical to ensure the immediate closure of poultry trading in the market and stop poultry movement from the market when the H7N9 virus is detected by Pen-side PCR. Culling and cleaning of the market shall be done promptly after the official confirmation is announced by the National Centre for Veterinary Diagnosis.” said Pawin Padungtod, Senior Technical Coordinator, FAO ECTAD Viet Nam.

To enhance the provincial response capacities, the mission team recommended the Provincial People’s Committees (PPC) and their relevant sub-departments to plan sufficient physical and human resources in advance for the possible H7N9 response. With the pre-allocated resources, they could execute rapid and efficient LBM closure, cull and dispose all birds and suspected-infected materials in the LBM, and clean and restore the LBM back to operation within seven days. The PPCs in high-risk provinces are strongly recommended to conduct a needs assessment and further training for their action plan and SOPs.

“The EMC-AH appreciates the opportunity to support FAO ECTAD and the Government of Viet Nam to strengthen emergency preparedness for H7N9 incursion, and build capacity on emergency response operations. It will be important to invest in improved biosecurity measures at LBMs while also addressing market infrastructure, developing a reliable traceability system, and implementing effective risk communication for all market players.” said Clarisse Ingabire, the Animal Health Officer (EMC-AH).

This mission was promptly organized following a FAO qualitative risk assessment update for the Chinese-Origin H7N9 Avian Influenza Spread in Poultry and Human Exposure February 2018 , which states that the likelihood of virus spreading from known affected areas of China to Viet Nam is moderate with medium uncertainty through informal trade.

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