Avian Influenza in Vietnam
Vietnam is one of the countries most affected by the highly pathogenic avian influenza A (H5N1) panzootic. This strain continues to circulate in poultry with sporadic crosses in humans. Vietnam reports 119 confirmed human cases (59 fatal) as of March 2011. However, reported cases among humans and poultry have fallen since 2004-2005, which suggest that control and prevention measures are working. Still, further work is required to address HPAI through effective prevention, early detection and response.


The first phase of avian influenza began in December 2003 and ended in March 2004. Vietnam first reported H5N1 in poultry on January 8, 2004. Following this first sighting, outbreaks continued to be reported on a regular basis. On January 11, 2004, Vietnam first identified H5N1 as the cause of human cases of severe respiratory disease with high fatality. Until mid-March, sporadic human cases were reported. In this time period 45 million poultry were culled and 27 human cases were reported, 16 of which were fatal. At the peak of the epidemic in early 2004, around 24 percent of Vietnam’s communes and 60 percent of towns were affected, in 57 out of Vietnam’s 64 provinces. 17 percent of Vietnam’s poultry population died or were culled. Scattered outbreaks and a small number of human cases continued through November 2004.

Throughout 2004, outbreaks of H5N1 continue to be reported in Vietnam. From July 19-September 7, 2004, Vietnam reports four new human cases of the infection. All of these prove to be fatal.

The second wave begins in December 2004 and ends in March 2005. On December 30, 2004 and January 6, 2005, two more cases of the infection in humans are discovered. In the coming months, more sporadic cases are reported, making Vietnam the country hardest hit by the outbreak. During this wave, 2 million poultry are culled and 64 total human cases are reported, of which 21 are fatal. The virus is detected in 670 communes during this period. Scattered outbreaks and a small number of human cases are detected through the middle of the year.

The third wave begins in October 2005 and ends in December 2005. During this time 4 million poultry are culled and 2 human cases are reported. Avian influenza is detected in 276 communes during this period.

On December 19, 2006, Vietnam reports H5N1 in unvaccinated poultry for the first time since August 2006. Outbreaks soon become widespread in southern Vietnam. In May 2007, Vietnam reports multiple outbreaks in several different provinces throughout Vietnam. On June 29, 2007, Vietnam reports its first human cases since November 2005. Now there have been 95 human cases of H5N1 in Vietnam. Six more human cases of H5N1 occur in the year 2007, while H5N1 in waterfowl is found in three more provinces.

In 2008, Vietnam reports H5N1 in poultry in many provinces throughout Vietnam. The worst outbreaks are in July when 15 outbreaks in poultry in 9 different provinces and in September when 9 H5N1 outbreaks in poultry are found in 6 different provinces throughout the country. Five more human cases of H5N1 are confirmed in 2008.

More and more provinces are found containing poultry infected with H5N1 in 2009. In addition, five more human cases are confirmed. In 2010, more provinces have confirmed the finding of infected poultry and six human cases of H5N1 are reported. Although many infected poultry are found in many of Vietnam’s provinces in the year 2011, there are no human cases reported. In 2012, three more human cases of H5N1 are reported.


Economic impact of Avian Influenza

Around 8 million of Viet Nam’s 11 million households were estimated to be engaged in poultry production prior to 2003.

It is estimated that the direct economic impact of HPAI amounted to about 0.12 percent of GDP in 2004 alone. This represents the net effect of the negative impacts on the poultry sector compensated to some extent by the increase in substitute livestock production. The total cost of the epidemic in the first two years has been estimated to be around US$ 630 million.

Poor households who are more reliant on poultry and eggs for both income and food and financially vulnerable small commercial farmers been particularly impacted.