Viet Nam
NEWS IN BRIEF Q.IV/2017

1. On 19 October 2017, a study showing that influenza A(H7N9) is both transmissible and lethal in animals was published by Professor Yoshihiro Kawaoka from Tokyo University and other colleagues. This resulted from characterizing a sample of H7N9 virus isolated from a patient who had died of influenza A(H7N9) in early 2017. According to the initial research findings, the gene that is transmissible and lethal in ferrets (a pinpoint animal for human infections) was detected. It is found that highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H7N9 strains replicated efficiently in mice, ferrets, and/or nonhuman primates. All viruses transmitted among ferrets via respiratory droplets, and the neuraminidase-sensitive variant killed several of the infected and exposed animals. It happens to both the first infected animal and in other healthy animals that have close contact with the infected animals. This is the first case of HPAI A strains transmission among ferrets causing deaths. These results suggest that the highly pathogenic H7N9 virus has pandemic potential and should be closely monitored. Up to now, there is no case of influenza A(H7N9) to be detected in animals and humans in Viet Nam. Ministry of Health will continue to work closely with Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, in collaboration with experts from WHO, FAO, to strictly monitor the situation of influenza A(H7N9) for timely implementation of disease prevention and control (Via the General Department of Preventive Medicine/MOH)./.

2. On 26-27 September 2017, a closing workshop of the project“Studies about influenza at the animal-human interface and other zoonotic diseases in Viet Nam, 2012-2017” was held by the Department of Animal Health (DAH) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Da Nang.The project, which was implemented from October 2012 to September 2017, has brought about positive effects within the animal health sector in Viet Nam, especially in zoonotic diseases prevention and control. Some outcomes that can be listed include: (1)Over 1,500 trained veterinarians and health workers from central and local agencies; (2)Significant improvement in epidemiological capacity and laboratory equipment serving for avian influenza and rabies in the central and local veterinary agencies; (3)Successful implementation of influenza surveillance studies in humans, pigs (at slaughterhouses), and in pigs and poultry (in households, livestock farms and poultry markets) at key areas of breeding and high risk of influenza and rabies; (4)Support for the participation in training programs, national and international conferences and workshops on avian influenza and rabies in Viet Nam and other countries; (5) Effective cooperation that in turns leads to the signing of a long term Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between DAH and US CDC; (6)Support for government agencies and enterprises in site visits and study tours for learning new technologies and techniques for MARD's current high priority vaccination program for livestock in Viet Nam.  Taking into account DAH’s proposal, these significant achievements together with effective project implementation during 2012-2017 are a good basis for US CDC to continue the support for a new phase (October 2017 - September 2022) with the following main activities: (i)Active monitoring of influenza and rabies; (ii)Basic and advanced training to build capacity in epidemiology and laboratory for influenza and rabies; and (iii)Research and production of commercial vaccines to prevent serious infectious diseases (Via DAH/MARD)./.

3. The 6th meeting of the Food Safety Working Group (FSWG) was organized on 25 October 2017, with the participation of MARD agencies, development partners and other national and international partners.  The 6th meeting of FSWG focused on the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) for management of antibiotic use and control of antibiotic resistance in livestock production and aquaculture, 2017-2020, encouraging the involvement of enterprises and other stakeholders in the reduction of antibiotic usage in order to combat antimicrobial resistance. The main proposed recommendations of the groups are: identifying gaps in the awareness of all stakeholders for appropriate communication and interventions, aiming at comprehensive actions from all targeted groups; and providing more detailed guidance to farmers. Key outcomes that were achieved after the meeting include: (i) Increased participation of private sector in the FSWG, (ii) Enterprises are encouraged to better investment in products that could also support to address antimicrobial resistance in fisheries and livestock, for example providing alternative measures for antibiotics in animal feeds, (iii) Consumers and social civil organizations should be more effectively involved in the implementation of the NAP, and (iv) More evidence is needed for prohibition of antibiotics use by producers. The next group meeting is planned to be organized in January 2018./. 

4. On the occasion of celebrating 10 years of cooperation between the National Institute of Veterinary Research (NIVR), the Hanoi University of Public Health (HUPH) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), a meeting was organized on 19 October 2017 to review joint projects and research activities on One Health and EcoHealth, with the participation of representatives from the three agencies and related partners. The key question to address is how to better communicate research findings to policy makers and strengthen close and effective collaboration in future projects. Mr. Nguyen Viet Hung, East and Southeast Asia Coordinator of ILRI stated that the tri-partite One Health research includes assessment and intervention in the areas of i) Food safety, ii) Zoonoses, and iii) the Environment. By summarizing research findings and collaboration throughout the past 10 years, opportunities will be created for better information sharing and policy advocacy for One Health research./.