Health Ministry requests urgent measures to stamp out diphtheria outbreak

VOV.VN - The General Department of Preventive Medicine under the Ministry of Health on July 8 asked health authorities of Nghe An and Bac Giang provinces to proactively strengthen the prevention and control of diphtheria following an infection and a death in their localities.

Health authorities in the central province of Nghe An on July 5 confirmed a human death caused by diphtheria, while the Department of Health of northern Bac Giang province also confirmed that a local had acquired the disease after having a close contact with the dead patient in Nghe An.

To keep the disease at bay, the General Department of Preventive Medicine requested that health authorities of Nghe An and Bac Giang provinces direct medical agencies and localities to urgently strengthen monitoring, early detect and test suspected cases, and implement measures to thoroughly handle any outbreaks.

It is necessary to set up a separate area for examination, isolation, and treatment of patients, strictly implement infection control and prevent cross-infection at medical examination and treatment facilities, said the department.

The department also asked local medical agencies to field investigations, and provide prophylactic antibiotic treatment for all cases of close contact. It emphasized the importance of vaccination against diphtheria, considering this an effective way to prevent the disease.

According to the World health Organisation, diphtheria is a disease caused by a bacterium that affects the upper respiratory tract and less often the skin. It also produces a toxin that damages the heart and the nerves. Diphtheria is a vaccine preventable disease, but multiple doses and booster doses are needed to produce and sustain immunity.

Tran Dac Phu, former director of the Department of Preventive Medicine, said that since the diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus vaccine was included in the Expanded Immunization Program in 1981, the number of diphtheria cases in Vietnam has decreased sharply.

In recent years, the disease has recurred in central, Central Highland and northern mountainous provinces. Through epidemiological investigations, these are all areas with low vaccination rates.

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