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Cambodia, Vietnam Agree on Stronger Bird Flu Monitoring

FILE - Chicken are displayed for sale at a wholesale poultry market in Ha Vy village, outside Hanoi, Vietnam, April 5, 2013.
Cambodian and Vietnamese officials say they are prepared to take stronger measures to monitor the region for avian influenza.

Following two days of talks in Phnom Penh, Vietnam Agriculture Ministry Animal Health Department Deputy Director General Mai Van Hiep said Tuesday efforts will include a close monitoring of the economic trade of fowl and better information sharing at border crossings.

"We will set up an area, namely a zone around the border between [the] two countries. [We will also set] up information about the disease, put animal cross-border movement under control and engage public awareness," said Mai.

Bird flu has killed 14 Cambodians and 63 Vietnamese since last year, making them the worst-hit countries in Southeast Asia.

Bird flu remains a concern at all levels, according to U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Diseases team leader Lotfi Allal. "It is still a concern at the International level with all international partners [and] donors. But also, it is a concern of government and this is for both sides, human and animal side."

Almost all cases of H5N1 infection in humans has been traced to direct contact with sick birds. The disease causes severe respiratory complications that can lead to death.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.