Hanoi influenza A outbreak infects hundreds at industrial complex

By Chi Le   July 18, 2022 | 04:00 am PT
Hanoi influenza A outbreak infects hundreds at industrial complex
A doctor treats a patient with a severe influenza A infection at Hanoi's National Hospital for Tropical Diseases, July 15, 2022. Photo courtesy of the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases
An influenza A outbreak at a Hanoi industrial complex has seen more than 100 people infected in a fortnight, some so badly that they've had to be put on ventilators.

Nguyen Nguyen Huyen, director of the medical diagnosis department at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases, confirmed that more than 100 people have been diagnosed with influenza A over the past two weeks.

On July 14 alone, the hospital reported 20 influenza A cases, all young and healthy workers at the Kim Chung industrial complex in Dong Anh District.

At least 10 children, all relatives of the workers, have also displayed symptoms like fever, sore throat and fatigue. One of them contracted pneumonia, and while the condition wasn't severe enough to require hospitalization, it could worsen in the coming days.

Tran Van Bac, deputy head of the medical diagnosis department, also said that a 78-year-old patient has just been admitted with influenza A that led to respiratory failure. The patient has now been put on a ventilator and is being monitored.

At the Thanh Nhan (Ward) General Hospital, head of the occupational disease department, Nguyen Thi Huong, said the number of influenza A cases has markedly increased recently. The department has received over 10 patients a single day on certain days. Many come to the hospital with symptoms like high fever and fatigue, while some have already contracted pneumonia and suffered respiratory failure.

A representative of the Hanoi Center for Disease Control (CDC) said Monday they were aware of the spike in influenza A cases, but they were mostly mild. The center will continue to monitor the situation and issue warnings as needed to the public, she said.

Influenza A, caused by the influenza A virus, is one among four types of influenza viruses, the others being B, C and D. It typically causes seasonal flu epidemics, and is the only influenza virus known to cause flu pandemics, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control.

In Vietnam, the ongoing influenza A outbreak is unusual as it has arrived earlier than expected, going by the experience of previous years.

Influenza A usually peaks during the winter-spring period, when temperature isn't high and the air is moist.

Many experts have said that abnormal weather patterns, for example the presence of cold waves even in May, might explain why cases of influenza A are so prevalent now. It could prove to be a troublesome health risk, especially amid an ongoing Covid-19 wave and a simultaneous rise in dengue fever cases.

While an influenza A infection is typically mild and should resolve within 2-7 days, it could turn severe for vulnerable groups like elderly people, those with underlying conditions and pregnant women.

Bac said that besides regular disease prevention measures like washing hands frequently and wearing maks, people should get yearly flu shots as well, especially those in vulnerable groups.

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