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 Other vector-borne diseases Dengue fever/ Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever
A child with dengue fever being treated in a HCM City hospital. (Credit: VNA)
Dengue and spring diseases in the the first three months of the year

HCM City sees strong rise in dengue fever cases

The number of dengue fever cases in Ho Chi Minh City in the first seven weeks of 2019 surged by nearly 250 percent over the same period last year, reported the city's Preventive Medicine Centre.

According to the centre, from January 1 to February 14, as many as 6,733 dengue fever patients were hospitalised, or nearly 1,000 cases each week. o­ne death from dengue fever has been reported in the city.

Since the beginning of this year, the number of dengue-infected cases has increased 249 percent year-on-year.

The centre's director Dr. Nguyen Tri Dung explained that this year, the peak of dengue fever season is more than 10 weeks late compared to the previous season, falling in the third week of 2019 instead of late 2018. Thus, although the typical season for the disease has nearly ended, the number of cases remains high.

Meanwhile, the city has also been suffering from a measles outbreak which has attacked many areas in the world.

Local hospitals have been receiving about 150 measles patients each week o­n average. From the beginning of 2019, the city recorded 926 hospitalised cases. The figure for the same period of 2018 was o­nly two.

Notably, during the Lunar New Year holiday, a strong rise was seen in the number of measles cases.

At the same time, while o­n the decline, the hand-foot-mouth disease in children has remained high compared to the same time last year, with 30-45 hospitalised cases each week.

Therefore, the municipal Preventive Medicine Centre advised locals to vaccinate children against measles, while applying drastic measures to prevent dengue fever and hand-foot-mouth disease, including killing mosquitoes and washing hands regularly.

Nearly 90 percent of measles cases related to lack of vaccination

Nearly 90 percent of measles cases reported in Vietnam can be traced to people who were either not vaccinated against the highly contagious virus, received no full vaccinations or had unknown vaccination status.

According to the Ministry of Health, since early February, measles cases have been recorded in 43 cities and provinces nationwide, largely in the southern region, with 664 patients.

The ministry said the disease would spread if no drastic countermeasures are taken.

All 24 districts in Ho Chi Minh City have reported measles cases, with the majority in Binh Thanh, Thu Duc and Binh Chanh districts and District 7.

The city's Preventive Medicine Department said 987 local children were hospitalised for measles treatment between January 1 and February 10, 2019. Up to 95 percent of them were not vaccinated.

Meanwhile, 53 measles cases have been found in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak since the first case was discovered in January 14, with most of them in unplanned residential and remote areas.

Hanoi has recorded 114 cases of measles since the start of 2019, a sharp increase compared with the same period last year when o­nly eight cases were reported, the municipal Health Department said. 

Of the figure, 89.1 percent of patients had not been vaccinated or did not have full vaccinations.

Director of the city's Disease Control Centre Nguyen Nhat Cam said measles was a highly infectious respiratory disease and often infected children under five years old or adults who were not vaccinated. Symptoms include fever, coughing, runny nose, inflamed eyes and red, flat rashes o­n the skin. It can spread very fast, particularly in crowded places.

The municipal Department of Health last year decided to run an additional measles-rubella vaccination campaign for children aged between 1 and 5. The campaign, starting last November, vaccinated 574,191 out of 607,023 targeted children.

The department warned that people should be more active in getting vaccinations. Many parents have delayed vaccinating their children over worries about side effects.

The first shot against measles is supposed to take place at nine months old and the second at 18 months old, according to the Ministry of Health's national immunisation guidelines. 

Tran Dac Phu, head of the Health Ministry's Preventive Medicine Department, said many children in both remote and urban areas have not been vaccinated adequately, resulting in measures outbreaks in the community.

Therefore, in late 2018, the ministry launched an additional measles-rubella vaccination campaign for 4.2 million children aged between 1 and 5 in vulnerable areas in 57 cities and provinces, he said.

Luong Ngoc Khue, head of the Health Ministry's Medical Examination and Treatment Department, urged hospitals to stepped up communication work to raise public awareness of the disease.

Health ministry warns of spring diseases

Health experts are advising people to take precautions to prevent epidemics and diseases that frequently occur in the first three months of the year during the humid weather and crowded festivals, said Tran Dac Phu, head of the Ministry of Health's Department of Preventive Medicine.

Common spring epidemics involve acute respiratory illnesses, measles, viral infections, Japanese encephalitis, chicken pox, meningitis and dengue fever.

Phu said epidemics, including dangerous and newly-emerging diseases such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), were becoming more complicated around the world.

A surge in measles cases has been recorded in some countries where the disease had previously been eradicated while some types of avian flu have been reported in neighbouring countries, posing risks of spreading via passengers and poultry imported from infected areas.

These diseases were liable to enter the country unless drastic preventive measures were taken, Phu said.

Luong Thi Thu Hien, head of the Internal Medicine Department at the Hanoi-based E Hospital, said the number of chicken pox cases among children usually rose in the spring.

Chicken pox was transmitted through the respiratory system. Children and adults were easily infected with the disease in the winter-spring season. Complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis could harm patients, she said.

Nguyen Trung Cap, head of the Hospital for Tropical Diseases' Emergency Department, said the number of flu cases was always high at this time and common among elderly people, pregnant women and children.

The most serious strains are A/H1N1 and B flu, which can lead to respiratory failure and death.

Nguyen Ba Dang, an official from the Ministry of Health's Department of Preventive Medicine, said spring diseases could turn into an outbreak in areas where people were not vaccinated.

The ministry has urged authorities to increase vaccinations for measles and rubella for children aged between o­ne and five across the country.

It has also encouraged people to take preventative methods such as regular hand washing, the safe processing of food and keeping a clean living environment.

Adults also needed to take children to health centres to make sure their vaccinations were up-to-date, it said.




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