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A doctor examines a dengue patient at the HCM City Hospital for Tropical Diseases. (Photo: VNA)
Health ministry urges proactive prevention of dengue fever

The Ministry of Health has urged people to take actions to prevent dengue fever amid increasing infections nationwide.

Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Laos and Cambodia are located in a region with many diseases caused by arbovirus, including Aedes aegypti mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever and Zika. These communicable diseases have a high risk of becoming epidemics and are not limited by borders.

There are about 1,700 - 1,800 new dengue fever cases reported in Vietnam each week recently, according to the Ministry of Health's Preventive Medicine Department. 

The numbers of dengue patients in Hanoi, Da Nang city and the provinces of Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Tra Vinh and Ca Mau have risen sharply in the first five months of the year from the same period in 2016. Up to 80 percent of the cases and 90 percent of the deaths from the disease are reported in southern localities. 

Hanoi recorded nearly 500 dengue patients from the beginning of 2017 to May, up 45 percent from a year earlier, the capital city's preventive medicine centre reported.

There are four types of dengue viruses in Vietnam, the Preventive Medicine Department said, adding that o­ne person can contract many types of viruses and be infected with dengue fever many times. Meanwhile, an infected people can also transmit the disease if the mosquitoes bite the patient and then a healthy person.

People should not underestimate this disease, the department added. Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said there is not yet an effective medicine to treat dengue fever while dengue vaccination remains unpopular.

The main prevention measure is to eliminate transmission sources, he said, admitting that global warming, El Nino, uncontrolled urbanisation and migration have hampered dengue prevention efforts.

The Ministry of Health launched a campaign to call o­n people nationwide to eradicate mosquitoes and larvae to prevent dengue fever and Zika virus. Various activities under the drive have been carried out across the country, Long added.

Dengue fever rises in Hanoi

Dengue fever cases are o­n the rise in Hanoi, as weather has been favourable to the development of infected mosquitoes.

Statistics from the Hanoi Health Department show that 1,281 cases of dengue fever were recorded in the city by June 4, 2.6 times more than the same period last year.

Of these, 126 patients are receiving treatment at hospitals and o­ne person has reportedly died in Dong Da district's Trung Liet ward.

Districts of Dong Da, Hoang Mai, Hai Ba Trung and Thanh Xuan have reported the highest number of dengue cases.

The number of dengue-infected patients tends to rise from mid of April and increase rapidly in early June. The weather turns to more dangerous with more heat waves and heavy rains, creating optimal conditions for mosquitoes to reproduce.

Hoang Duc Hanh, deputy director of Hanoi's Department of Health, said the department has directed medical units to strengthen the implementation of measures to prevent the disease, particularly providing information o­n the epidemic situation to locals and guiding them o­n how to prevent the disease.

The department will take drastic measures to stop the spreading of dengue fever cases, as September and November are high season for the disease.

HCM City authorities wary of dengue, Zika as rains begin

The HCM City People's Committee has instructed district leaders to monitor preventive action taken against dengue fever and Zika as the southern region enters the rainy season.

It said relevant agencies should organise campaigns and encourage locals to destroy mosquitoes and larvae by clearing wastes in which water could collect to prevent the spread of the diseases.

It instructed the city Department of Health to follow the Ministry of Health's directions to closely monitor the spread of the diseases.

The department should also ensure there are enough drugs and other medical supplies for effective prevention of the diseases since the city is seeing outbreaks, it said.

It has been ordered to regularly report o­n the situation to the People's Committee and ministry.

It has also been ordered to collaborate with the city Department of Information and Communication to strengthen public communication about preventive methods to improve awareness and prevent the spread of inaccurate information to avoid panic.

According to the city Preventive Health Centre, there have been 233 cases of dengue in the last two weeks, 6.9 percent higher than in the previous four weeks.

This year there have been a total of 7,779 cases, almost unchanged from last year.

The HCM City Hospital for Tropical Diseases has been admitting 20 dengue patients every day since late last month.

Dr Nguyen Thanh Phong, head of the hospital's infectious diseases department D, said the number of patients is increasing with the rains.

Of the patients, several have been infected a second or third time because their awareness of preventive methods is not high, he said.

He explained that there are four common types of dengue strains, and getting infected with o­ne is no guarantee against contracting another kind.

A second infection is more serious than the first, he said.

A patient from District 8 who is being treated at the hospital said it was his second dengue infection.

He lives in a house o­n the edge of the Doi Canal, a place filled with mosquitoes.

Since he had contracted dengue o­nce earlier he thought he was immune and ignored preventive methods, he said.

More dengue cases

According to the Dong Nai province Preventive Health Centre, there have been 1,365 dengue cases this year.

Nhon Trach district has reported the largest number, 441, or 32.3 percent of the cases reported.

The number is up by 77 percent from the same period last year.

Most of cases have been in the communes of Long Tho, Phuoc Thien and Hiep Phuoc, which are mostly home to migrant workers. They live in dank rented rooms without standard drainage systems and surrounded by rubbish.

The centre's officials have sprayed chemicals two times so far this year to destroy mosquitoes.

The centre has urged district health officials to spread awareness of preventive methods.

Dengue is a viral infection transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no specific vaccine and treatment for dengue, Dr. Doan Thu Tra, deputy head of the Infectious Diseases Department, said.

Patients who develop a sudden high fever of 39-40 degrees Celsius, lasting 2-7 days and with symptoms of headache, tenderness, accompanied by signs of rash and skin congestion should visit the hospital for early diagnosis and timely treatment, she said.

Recommendations include destroying habitats where mosquitoes breed, ensuring a clean living environment, using mosquito repellents and wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants. 



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