|Taking samples for diphtheria testing in Gia Lai province
The diphtheria outbreak, which occurred in Dak Nong province more than a month ago and claimed two lives, seems to spread to Gia Lai province, a neighbouring locality in the Central Highlands.
A four-year-old boy who was diagnosed with malignant diphtheria and suffered complications from diphtheria died in Gia Lai early on July 5. Nine people who had close contact with the boy tested positive for the Corynebacterium bacterial strain that causes diphtheria.
To date 34 people have been infected with the Corynebacterium bacterium, including 16 cases in Dak Nong province, 10 cases in Gia Lai province and eight cases in Kon Tum province.
In a recent urgent telegram, the Ministry of Health has requested that Central Highlands provinces take preventive measures against the disease. Local healthcare facilities were required to intensify examination, early detect diphtheria cases, promptly quarantine cases of infection, and strictly zone off affected areas to handle outbreaks and prevent the spread of the disease.
For Dak Nong province, a diphtheria hotspot, the Ministry of Health asked the local health sector to prepare quarantine areas and necessary medical equipment, while increasing training for medical workers, in order to receive and treat severe cases.
Diphtheria 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. Complications include myocarditis, kidney problems, respiratory failure, inflammation of nerves, coma, and death.
Diphtheria has yet to be eradicated nationwide, with vaccination representing the best possible solution in order to prevent someone from suffering from bacterial infection.
As diphtheria is easily transmitted through coughing and sneezing, people have been advised to cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing, frequently wash their hands with soap, and limit their contact with suspected cases.