Dengue fever outbreak kills 50 across Vietnam

By Nguyen Quy   October 31, 2019 | 08:25 pm PT
Dengue fever outbreak kills 50 across Vietnam
A preventive health work sprays chemicals against dengue fever at a residential area in Hanoi, August 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh.
At least 50 dengue fever deaths have been reported January-October from across Vietnam, nearly five times higher year-on-year.

While authorities have stepped up preventive measures, Vietnam still recorded 200,000 cases of dengue fever in the first 10 months of this year, three times higher than the same period of last year, the Health Ministry’s Preventive Medicine Department said.

Currently, all 63 provinces and cities have had dengue fever patients and the risk of a greater outbreak is extremely high, said Pham Hung, head of the Office for Infectious Diseases Control from the department.

He blamed carelessness and poor awareness among the public for the spread of the infectious disease.

In some places, people have not cooperated with health officials, refusing to spray mosquito repellents in their houses and not allowed health inspection teams to check their living environment and kill mosquito larvae, Hung said, as cited by Lao Dong (Labor) newspaper.

The latest dengue fever victim was a 10-year-old boy in the southern province of Dong Nai. He died last week after being hospitalized for nearly three weeks.

Current conditions favor the breeding of mosquitoes, including those carrying the dengue virus, said Dr Nguyen Tri Dung, director of the Ho Chi Minh City Preventive Medicine Center.

Dengue fever occurs all year round in Vietnam, but peak transmission is during the rainy season, April through October in the north, and June through December in the south.

In Hanoi alone, more than 8,400 patients have been hospitalized with dengue fever in the first 10 months of this year, an increase of eight times against the same period last year.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam's southern metropolis with a population of 13 million, reported more than 50,000 dengue cases in January-October, up 124 percent over the same period last year. Nine patients in the city have died.

The climate crisis, hot and sunny weather, continuous rains and rapid urbanization have created favorable conditions for mosquitoes to breed, exacerbating the dengue fever threat in the country, the World Health Organization (WHO) officials said at a conference in HCMC in April.

Vietnam has been trying to find an effective way to tackle dengue, one of the biggest killers out of 28 common infectious diseases. The only vaccine for it available globally is not recommended for people who have not had dengue before.

There is no specific treatment for dengue, but early detection, improved clinical management and access to proper medical care for severe dengue can reduce fatality rates, WHO has said.

Victims often display symptoms of high fever over three to four days, fatigue, dizziness, stomachaches, vomiting and rashes. The most serious cases may lead to hemorrhaging, loss of consciousness, respiratory failure and abnormal liver and kidney functions. Dengue fever may also lead to rare heart conditions.

Health authorities have called on people with similar symptoms to contact hospitals at the earliest.

Some of the preventive measures include spraying places where mosquitoes breed, keeping the living environment clean, using mosquito-repellent and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

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