Animal health officials in Vietnam detected the bird flu virus in chickens smuggled from neighboring China, highlighting the danger of outbreaks as the Lunar New Year approaches, an official said on Tuesday.
Eight of 16 samples taken from nearly 2,200 pounds (1,000 kilograms) of poultry confiscated by authorities late last month in the border province of Lang Son tested positive for the H5N1 virus, said Do Van Duoc, director of the provincial animal health department.
"The smuggling of chickens from China poses a threat of bird flu flare-ups in Vietnam," Duoc said.
Poultry smuggling into Lang Son province has increased over the past month as the holiday approaches, Duoc said. Many Vietnamese families eat chicken during the festivities, which begin on January 26 this year.
Authorities confiscated some 220 tons (200 metric tons) of poultry brought in from China last year, Duoc said. Vietnam reported a case of bird flu in an 8-year-old girl earlier this month in northern Thanh Hoa province, the country's first human case in 10 months.
Outbreaks of the virus also struck poultry on small farms in two northern provinces last month.