Rabies kills 82 in Vietnam in 2023

By Le Nga   January 25, 2024 | 06:53 pm PT
Rabies kills 82 in Vietnam in 2023
A man with rabies is treated at Hanoi's Bach Mai Hospital. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh
Vietnam recorded 82 deaths from rabies last year, 12 more than in 2022, and 500,000 people were vaccinated after exposure to the virus.

The most deaths were in Gia Lai (14), Nghe An (7), Binh Phuoc (7), Dien Bien (6), and Ben Tre (5) provinces.

In most cases, the reason was because people did not get vaccinated after being bitten by rabid animals, Assoc Prof Hoang Minh Duc, Deputy director of management and operations at the Preventive Health Department, said Wednesday.

Nearly 500,000 people had to be given rabies vaccinations that cost VND600 billion (US$24,290).

Eight million dogs and cats also got shots costing VND50,000 each.

"The total cost we have to pay for rabies is very high," Duc said.

Rabies is transmitted through the saliva of infected animals and enters the body through bites or licks and scratches on damaged skin.

Once it reaches the central nervous system, the virus reproduces rapidly and travels back to the salivary glands.

At this stage the animal appears normal as the nervous system is not yet significantly damaged, but their saliva already contains the rabies virus.

Then the virus gradually destroys nerve cells, leading to typical clinical symptoms of rabies such as hydrophobia, aerophobia, convulsions, and paralysis.

Once rabies symptoms develop, the mortality rate is nearly 100% for both humans and animals.

The World Health Organization says rabies is prevalent worldwide.

Each year over 10 million people bitten by rabid or suspected rabid animals must receive post-exposure prophylaxis with vaccines, and 60,000-70,000 die of rabies.

Vietnam records around 75 deaths annually and hundreds of thousands of others get treatment for dog and cat bites.

Rabies in humans can be prevented and treated prophylactically with vaccines and rabies immunoglobulin.

Immunoglobulin injections introduce ready-made antibodies into the body to neutralize the rabies virus, while vaccines provide long-term immunity.

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