Viet Nam

Viet Nam: South steps up preventive measures against dengue fever, Zika virus

HCM CITY — Deputy Minister of Health Nguyễn Thanh Long on Thursday urged agencies and local authorities in the southern region to take preventive measures against outbreaks of dengue and Zika virus infections.

“The World Health Organisation has issued a warning that Việt Nam is inside the ‘belt’ affected by dengue and Zika. We should take measures to prevent an outbreak this year," he said at a meeting on disease prevention held in HCM City.

Phan Trọng Lân, head of the Pasteur Institute, said that continued infections would be inevitable if surveillance and other measures were not taken to control mosquitoes that act as the primary vector for Zika transmission.

Eighty per cent of patients infected with the Zika virus show no clinical symptoms, he said, adding that the virus was difficult to detect and prevent.

“We must strengthen methods for surveillance of Zika. This activity should be allocated long-term funds for continuous maintenance,” Lân said.

Private and public hospitals throughout the country should also take part in the surveillance, he added.

Each province should choose one hospital at the provincial level and one at the district level for surveillance of dengue fever, Zika and Chikungunya (also transmitted by mosquitoes) virus cases.

Patients with a rash, fever of more than 38.5 degrees Celsius, conjunctivitis or joint pain should be screened and monitored.

Lân said that appropriate agencies should continue to protect pregnant women from the Zika virus to avoid possible birth defects caused by the virus.

Nguyễn Đức Vinh, head of the Mothers’ and Children’s Health Department of the Ministry of Health, said that all obstetricians and paediatricians in the country would be given guidelines on surveillance and early detection of fetuses with abnormally small heads linked to the virus.

Head of the ministry’s Preventive Medicine Department, Trần Đắc Phu, said that 219 patients were infected with the Zika virus last year.

Of these, one infant in the Central Highlands province of Đắk Lắk was born with an abnormally small head probably caused by the virus.

Since the beginning of this year, 13 cases have tested positive for the Zika virus.

HCM City has recorded 199 patients with Zika since the first case that occurred last year, Phu said.

Last year, the country had 110,876 dengue fever incidences, with 36 people dying from the disease.

Most dengue fever cases were in the southern and central regions, with the Central Highlands’ provinces seeing the highest increase.

Of the entire southern and central area, HCM City, Đà Nẵng and the provinces of Gia Lai, Đắk Lắk, Khánh Hòa, Bình Dương, Bình Định, Đồng Tháp, Đồng Nai and Bến Tre had the highest number of incidences.

Last year, the prevalence of dengue fever per 100,000 people in Việt Nam was 109.5, lower than other regional countries such as Malaysia, which had a prevalence of 325.3. — VNS