Hospitals in the southern region have admitted many patients diagnosed with hand-foot-mouth disease, measles or upper respiratory infections as the peak season (September and October) for contagious diseases has arrived.
The number of children with hand-foot-mouth (HFM) disease at HCM City Paediatrics Hospital 1 rose by five times compared to last month, according to Truong Huu Khanh, head of the hospital’s infectious and nervous diseases department.
In the last several days, the department admitted more children with the disease, and on Monday, as many as 222 children with HFM infections were admitted.
On Wednesday, 179 children with HFM were treated at the department, including 30 with severe symptoms.
Earlier this week, 10 patients with HFM infections were placed on ventilators, while another five needed dialysis.
One patient died from HFM disease, which has no protective vaccine, Khanh said.
Because of the increase in cases, many patients have had to share hospital beds.
“Compared to the last five years, the hospital has seen more HFM cases this year, including kids who attend nurseries and kindergartens, as well as those who stay at home,” Khanh said.
Nearly 670 out of 7,000 patients have been diagnosed with HFM at the hospital since the beginning of this month.
Khanh said that more than 50 per cent of hospitalised patients had contracted the HFM EV71 infection, which causes a high risk of severe complications such as pneumonia and respiratory failure, and even death.
“Parents should take preventive measures as the peak season might extend into November and December,” he said.
If children have a fever for two days and experience vomiting, they should be taken to the nearest health facilities for examination and treatment.
The city’s Department of Health has instructed health officials to inform the public about preventive measures, and inspect hygiene at nurseries and kindergartens.
The Preventive Health Centre said that nearly 3,200 children have had HFM in HCM City since the beginning of the year. Last week, the number of cases increased by 45 per cent compared to previous weeks.
One patient in neighbouring Dong Nai Province died due to the disease, according to the province’s Department of Health.
As of September 20, the province had 6,100 patients infected with HFM.
The Dong Nai Paediatrics Hospital each day admits 90 cases, an increase of three times compared to last month. Many patients are using ventilators.
During an online meeting on Wednesday between HCM City Pasteur Institute, which is in charge of surveillance of diseases in the southern region, and health officials of 20 southern provinces, Dr Phan Trong Lan, head of the institute, instructed the officials to take preventive measures to avoid an outbreak of infectious diseases.
More than 30,000 children with HFM have been reported nationwide since late August, according to the Ministry of Health. All provinces and cities have reported patients with the disease.
In the country’s northern region, the peak season for measles is in May and June, while the southern region has seen an increase in cases since mid-August.
Dong Nai Province has had 136 cases, the largest number of patients with measles in the southern region, which is followed by Binh Duong and Ba Ria-Vung Tau provinces, and HCM City.
Immunisation coverage in Dong Nai is low so the risk of spreading the disease is very high, according to the province’s Preventive Health Centre.
The province has a large number of migrant workers who do not get their children vaccinated or take preventive measures.
Dr Le Hong Nga of the HCM City Preventive Health Centre said the city has had 96 cases since the beginning of the year.
The city carried out a vaccination campaign for children born in 2016 and 2017, and is considering a vaccine for children aged three to five, according to Nga.
The centre has instructed its health officials in districts to take measures to prevent the spread of measles at hospitals.
Dr Luong Chan Quang of the Pasteur Institute in HCM City warned that Ba Ria-Vung Tau should vaccinate children aged one to five, since it has the third highest number of measles cases in the southeastern region.
Lan said that hospital staff should also get vaccinated because the risk of transmission from patients is high.
In addition to HFM and measles, the number of children with upper respiratory infections has increased at hospitals in Hanoi and HCM City.
Infected children have symptoms such as cough, difficulties in breathing, runny nose, sneezing and fever.
The infection can worsen the condition of premature babies and those with heart disease or weak immune systems.
Since there is no vaccine against the respiratory virus, people are advised to wash their hands regularly and avoid contact with infected people.