Swine flu, bird flu viruses could form deadly cocktail: health official

The reappearance of bird flu has opened up the threat of the virus combining with the swine flu virus to become more lethal and capable of human transmission, a health official warned at a meeting of the National Steering Board of Human Flu Prevention on December 2.

Health officials recommend washing hands with soap as an effective measure to protect against the A/H1N1 virus

Dr. Nguyen Huy Nga, chief of the Preventive Health and Environment Department, said the H1N1 virus that causes swine flu could combine with the H5N1 virus and become more deadly than the former and more capable of human-to-human transmission than the latter, especially in winter

He told delegates that two more people have died of swine flu, both from the Mekong delta province of An Giang -- a 33-year-old man from who died on November 20, and a 17-year-old girl who died on November 29.

On November 28 bird flu claimed its fifth victim, a 23-year-old man in the northern province of Dien Bien. Many others have been hospitalized around the country with suspected bird flu.

Officials from the Vietnam Drug Administration said at the meeting that three drug suppliers, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Sanoffi Aventis, and Pasteur have registered to sell swine-flu vaccines.

The administration has tested the vaccine made by GSK which would supply 1.2 million doses through the World Health Organization, they said.

They are meant for high risk groups like children aged six to 59 months, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions including asthma, diabetes, and immune system problems, and health-care personnel who provide direct patient care, the officials added.

Besides buying one million doses of Tamiflu, Vietnam has successfully made an antiviral drug for treatment of both flus called Arbidol (Fludon H1),

So far the country has reported 10,944 swine-flu cases with 46 deaths and five deaths from bird flu.

By K. Nguyen - Translated by Dang Long

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