16 quarantined in Saigon after student diagnosed with diphtheria

By Le Cam   June 25, 2020 | 08:25 pm PT
16 quarantined in Saigon after student diagnosed with diphtheria
An ambulance car parks inside the campus of the 175 Military Hospital in HCMC. Photo courtesy of the hospital.
A 20-year-old student in HCMC was diagnosed with diphtheria, prompting health authorities to isolate 16 people who had been in close contact with him.

Lieutenant Colonel Phan Ba Hieu of the infectious diseases department at the 175 Military Hospital, where the unidentified patient is being treated, said on Thursday he had been hospitalized nine days earlier with fever, a sore throat and swelling in the jaw and neck.

He later tested positive for diphtheria.

The hospital quickly worked together with local authorities to isolate 16 people who had written exams along with him. All tested negative for diphtheria but were given prophylactics.

The patient is now stable and no longer has fever or sore throat, Hieu said.

He is a student at a military school in the city, Vietnam News Agency reported.

HCMC is the second locality in Vietnam to report a diphtheria outbreak this year after Dak Nong Province in the Central Highlands, where 12 people were diagnosed with it this month. A nine-year-old girl died and another patient is in critical condition.

Diphtheria, which can be prevented with vaccination, is an infection caused by the Corynebacterium diphtheria bacterium. It spreads through air and direct contact. Symptoms include fever, sore throat, swallowing difficulty, and white patches in the throat that could block the airway.

Complications include myocarditis, kidney problems, respiratory failure, inflammation of nerves, coma, and death.

Last year a seven-year-old girl in Dak Lak Province near Dak Nong succumbed to the disease.

In 2017 and 2018 six people died in Kon Tum and Quang Nam provinces.

The country has managed to contain the disease for years through a national vaccination and immunization program.

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