Friday , July 19 2024

Health authorities go full force to prevent outbreak after fatal diphtheria case

A total of 119 people who have come into contact with the fatal case of diphtheria in Nghệ An Province have been identified.

A woman is tested for diphtheria in Nghệ An Province. — Photo

HÀ NỘI — One diphtheria death has been recorded in the central Nghệ An Province prompting fast actions from health authorities to avoid any more fatalities and to contain any possible outbreak.

The patient was an 18-year-old student in Kỳ Sơn District, who died on July 5. A total of 119 people who have come into contact with her have been identified.

Among them, two have left Nghệ An for work in the northern Bắc Giang Province, one other has tested positive for diphtheria.

Bắc Giang’s Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and its Hiệp Hòa District Health Centre identified 15 other people who have been in contact with the positive case for testing. Eight of them have tested negative for the virus as of Tuesday morning.

Diphtheria is transmitted through the respiratory tract.

Speaking to Sức khỏe & Đời sống (Health & Life) newspaper, Dr Nguyễn Văn Thương, deputy director of Nghệ An Department of Health said that upon receiving the news from Nghệ An Friendship General Hospital of a possible diphtheria infection, the department ordered immediate sample collection for testing at the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology.

The provincial CDC was also ordered to send a rapid response team to Kỳ Sơn District to assist in disease inspection and control and identify people who came into close contact with the patient.

Thương said: “Nghệ An health sector is working with authorities of other localities involved in this case to take disease prevention and control measures, monitoring the situation and taking samples.

“Those who have come into contact with the positive case or showed symptoms such as sore throat, cough or fever are given prophylactic antibiotics and guidelines for at-home treatment.

“Announcements are also being broadcast on the public speaker system to boost people’s awareness of diphtheria. We also provide diphtheria vaccines for those who are eligible but have not received their doses.”

On Monday, Nghệ An health department also issued an urgent document to increase monitoring for early detection of diphtheria cases, alongside guidelines for prompt isolation of infections for effective response and prevention of widespread outbreaks.

Communication at the grassroots level also increases for proactive actions among local people.

Families are also encouraged to bring their children to health centres for timely and complete vaccination. Hygiene practices are also being promoted in school.

Those who are not included in the Expanded Programme on Immunisation are recommended to get their vaccine for diphtheria at on-demand vaccination points.

The goal is that all children, including those who are not permanent residents, are fully vaccinated. The vaccination rate should be over 95 per cent in all wards, communes and towns, especially in remote areas where healthcare access is still limited.

Local authorities must ensure proper hospitalisation, emergency care and treatment for potential or positive cases of diphtheria to prevent cross-infection in medical facilities and minimise the chances of fatality.

Medical supplies and medicines have been readied in case of any possible outbreaks.

In addition to disinfection and distancing measures in areas where infections have been detected, authorities also advocate practising hygiene and provide information on the disease in multiple languages, including those of ethnic minorities.

Nghệ An’s challenge in preventing diphtheria is that most of its population is located in remote areas and has limited knowledge of the disease.

Nghệ An health department’s deputy director Thương recommended that those who come into contact with a positive case or experience symptoms such as sore throat, cough, shortness of breath or fever must immediately go to the local health station for examination and treatment, rather than self-medicating at home. — VNS

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