Nine more test positive for diphtheria in Central Highlands province

By Tran Hoa   July 5, 2020 | 05:33 am PT
Nine more test positive for diphtheria in Central Highlands province
A medical staff takes samples from a girl in Bong Hiot Village in Gia Lai Province for diphtheria tests, July 5, 2020. Photo courtesy of Vietnam News Agency.
Nine of 24 people who'd come into contact with a four-year-old boy in Gia Lai who succumbed to diphtheria Sunday have tested positive for the disease.

The new patients, including the parents and neighbors of the boy, are being treated at the Gia Lai General Hospital and Children’s Hospital. They have shown symptoms of mild fever.

As many as 1,400 residents of Bong Hiot Village in Dak Doa District have been placed under quarantine to prevent the spread of the disease, said Mai Xuan Hai, director of Gia Lai’s Department of Health. They belong to the Ba Na ethnic minority.

The boy was diagnosed with malignant diphtheria and suffered complications from diphtheria that triggered multiple organ damage. He died at the Children’s Hospital after two days of treatment.

The vaccination rate for diphtheria in Gia Lai Province, where 10 cases have been reported so far, has reached 92 percent, according to local health officials.

Meanwhile, the General Department of Preventive Medicine under the Health Ministry said on June 26 that the vaccination rate for diphtheria in the Central Highlands was just 48-50 percent, leaving the region susceptible to repeated outbreaks.

The latest diphtheria outbreak struck the Central Highlands region more than a month ago. It has claimed the lives of three children so far.

Dak Nong Province in the Central Highlands has recorded 16 cases of diphtheria in the latest outbreak, the country's highest to date. Kon Tum Province has reported eight cases.

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.

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