After a consultancy mission funded by a nongovernmental organization (NGO), information was collected on the dynamics of avian influenza (AI) infection at the rural level in a Vietnamese province with several ongoing outbreaks. AI outbreaks are frequent at village level due to environmental, ecological, agroecological, physical, social, and cultural factors, the underlying factor being poor hygienic conditions. Viral circulation is facilitated by the interactions of the integrated aquaculture, animal raising, horticulture agroecosystem, which relies in the peculiar integration of aquaculture (ponding), animal activities, and horticulture and by the connections with the live-bird market system. The interactions of these factors determine the complex system in which wild birds interact with domestic birds and in which people are constantly exposed to sources of infection, leading to the association between poverty and AI infection in humans. This experience underlines that despite all efforts by the Vietnamese Government, international institutions, and the NGO sector, awareness of AI at the village level needs to be improved. In turn, the leading institutions and international donors funding projects of technical cooperation aimed at tackling AI in Vietnam should invest in a system based on a deep knowledge of the practical problems of village condition to address AI with an effective approach. On the basis of the data collected during the mission, particularly on rural and semi-intensive poultry rearing systems, proposals that encompass the application of an effective vaccination strategy including backyard flocks coupled with dissemination of relevant information on biosecurity measures have been developed for decision makers.
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Vol. 51 • No. s1