The Ministry of Health has called on authorities and hospitals in the south to strengthen preventive measures to control the spread of measles and hand-foot-mouth disease.
The number of HFM infections has increased steadily in the region, with nearly 4,800 cases reported so far this year, or 77 percent of all cases in the country, Tran Dac Phu, head of the ministry’s preventive medicine department, said.
Six deaths have been reported.
Most of patients have been children under 10, Phu told a conference in HCM City on October 10.
HCM City and the provinces of Dong Nai, Binh Duong, Dong Thap, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Long An, Ninh Thuan and Tay Ninh have reported a large number of cases.
In HCM City, more than 4,000 were hospitalised with over 21,300 others treated as outpatients in the first nine months of the year, according to the city’s Preventive Medicine Centre.
Pham Van Quang, head of intensive care at HCM City’s Pediatrics Hospital No 1, said in the first nine months, the hospital received 2,180 children with HFM disease, 46 of them with severe complications, and one of them died.
Last month, the number of in-patients with the disease rose by 182 percent compared to the same month last year to 814, Quang said, adding the city also reported 132 cases of measles in the period.
In Dong Nai province, the number of HFM disease infections has risen dramatically since early August.
Last month, more than 700 cases were reported every week, with 200 patients being hospitalised.
The number of measles cases this year has soared to 190, including 161 last month.
Tran Minh Hoa, deputy director of the province’s Preventive Medicine Centre, said the disease surveillance system showed high incidence of measles in densely populated places like lodging houses and among unvaccinated children.
Binh Duong province has seen a steady increase in the rate of HFM disease and measles since last month, with more than 3,000 and 110 cases being reported.
Phan Trong Lan, head of HCM City’s Pasteur Institute, said the southeastern region has seen a steady increase in the HFM disease and measles infections rates this year.
The institute’s disease surveillance system showed a high rate of infections at industrial parks and areas with large populations and large numbers of migrant workers, he said.
Poor hygiene, unclean water and pollution result in a high risk of infection, he said.
Low rate of immunisation among migrants is another concern, he added.
This year, the peak season for HFM diseases had been forecast to be in September, October and November, Phu of the preventive medicine department said.
His department has warned against the spread of the two highly infectious diseases and urged local authorities and health officials to strengthen preventive measures against possible outbreaks, he said.
The HCM City People’s Committee has ordered the Department of Health to work closely with other agencies to strengthen disease surveillance and take timely action to prevent the spread of HFM disease.
It also instructed the department to provide training to personnel at grassroots health stations for early detection and treatment of HFM disease and measles.