According to the ministry's Preventive Medicine Department, from June to October, diphtheria outbreaks were reported in six of the 17 provinces across Laos.
Until October 27, 2015, Laos has recorded 588 diphtheria infected cases among the total population of 6.7 million people, of which 11 people died. The cases occurred mainly in children under the age of 15, accounting for 61%, or who had not been vaccinated against the contagious disease.
So far in 2015, Vietnam has recorded only a few cases of diphtheria in some communes in the remote district of K'Bang in the Central Highlands Gia Lai province and two hamlets of Phuoc Loc Commune, Phuoc Son district in the central Quang Nam province because people living in these areas had not been vaccinated.
However, the diphtheria outbreaks currently occurring in Laos can spread to the border region between Vietnam and Laos then to other areas of the country.
Currently, the ministry is closely following the diphtheria situation in Laos and regularly exchanging information with the country to implement appropriate control measures.
The ministry recommended that families get their children vaccinated against diphtheria with drugs such as Quinvaxem or DTP (Diphtheria - Pertussis - Tetanus) under the guidance of medical centres.
People should frequently wash their hands with soap, cover the mouth while coughing or sneezing, practice good personal hygiene and keep minimum contact with infected persons. When reporting diphtheria symptoms, people must be isolated and taken to hospital for timely treatment.
Diphtheria is a dangerous respiratory disease caused by a potent toxin produced by certain strains of the diphtheria bacterium. It is extremely contagious and can be spread through coughing or sneezing. Crowding, poor hygiene and lack of immunisation increase the risk of contracting the disease.
In Vietnam, since the implementation of the national Expanded Programme for Immunisation (EPI), the rate of diphtheria infections has decreased dramatically.
Diphtheria vaccines used in EPI includes DPT (Diphtheria - Pertussis - Tetanus) (before 2010) and Quinvaxem (Diphtheria - Pertussis - Tetanus - Hepatitis B - Hib), from 2010.