Dengue Fever Outbreak Claims 24 Lives in Vietnam

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As many as 80,555 dengue fever cases, of which 24 have been fatal, have been reported in Vietnam this year despite the government’s efforts to tackle the outbreak.

The Ministry of Health released the figures in a meeting on August 10.

The number of cases increased 33.5 percent and the number of fatalities increased by five deaths compared to the same period last year.

Among those who have contracted the disease this year, 69,085 have been hospitalized.

Ho Chi Minh City has recorded the highest number of dengue patients in the country, at 16,500, which includes four deaths. As of July, there has been a 23 percent increase in cases in the city over the number reported during the same period last year, while 46 percent more cases have been reported in July than in June, the HCMC health department said on August 2.

dengue feverImage source: news.zing.vn

As of August 9, the Ministry of Health reported that Hanoi has verified 13,982 dengue fever cases, including six fatalities; around 1,000 people came to hospitals exhibiting symptoms of dengue fever every day.

Doctors are concerned about the unusually high number of deaths caused by brain hemorrhages. Six patients in Hanoi have already died from this condition this year, compared to only one or two cases in previous years.

VnExpress quoted a doctor as saying that patients can suffer bleeding of the brain just three days after contracting the mosquito-borne virus, even when they appear healthy.

He said that anyone with a fever should seek medical treatment as soon as possible.

The outbreak has caused hospitals around the city to be overloaded, which has ramifications on the efficiency of medical services for every city dweller.

Contributing Factors

Dengue is a viral infection caused by four types of viruses belonging to the Flaviviridae family. The viruses are transmitted through the bite of an infected female Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquitoes that feed both indoors and outdoors during the daylight hours.

These mosquitoes thrive in areas with standing water, including puddles, water tanks and old tires. A lack of reliable sanitation and regular garbage collection also contribute to the spread of mosquitoes.

dengue feverImage source: suckhoedoisong.vn

According to Vietnam’s General Department of Preventive Medicine, the increasing number of dengue fever cases this year was caused by the early start of summer and a higher average temperature than normal in most parts of the country.
In the south, both the temperature and the rainfall increased sharply compared to previous years, which created perfect conditions for mosquitoes.

The department also cited rapid urbanization and a lack of sanitation at construction sites and factories as reasons for the outbreak.

The department admitted that a lack of coordination between residents and authorities in the prevention and treatment of dengue fever is to blame also.

Spraying chemicals to eradicate Ae. aegypti larval habitats can be difficult in some urban areas due to a lack of funding; in some areas, the community is not prepared for an outbreak due to a long-time absence of dengue fever.

Prevention

As there is no specific medication to treat dengue fever, the Vietnamese government is trying to find an effective way to tackle the illness, which is one of the biggest killers in the country out of 28 common infectious diseases.

The use of chemicals to treat larval habitats, as well as campaigns to raise awareness, are two measures that have been implemented recently.

dengue feverImage source: govap.hochiminhcity.gov.vn

On August 3, Ha Nam Province near Hanoi became the first locality in Vietnam to declare a dengue outbreak, issue information about the disease to its public and obtain government funding in an effort to control it.

Although Hanoi has yet to declare an outbreak, all information about the disease has been passed on to residents through the media, according to local authorities.

The Dengvaxia vaccine, produced by French-owned pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur, has been tested on 29,000 patients worldwide and has an average efficiency rate of 60.8 percent against all four strains of dengue; however, this treatment has not yet been introduced in Vietnam.

Vietnamese Minister of Health said the vaccine is expensive for Vietnamese people (US$50/shot; three shots are needed) and authorities in the department worry about the effectiveness of the vaccine, as only 70 percent of vaccinated patients are protected from the disease.

Banner image source: baomoi.com

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