Saturday , March 2 2024

Vietnam on alert for mysterious acute hepatitis

The health ministry has called for local surveillance to be stepped up for detecting possible cases of acute hepatitis of unknown origin that has been found in 20 countries.

The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health Friday asked medical facilities, especially pediatric hospitals, to increase surveillance for detecting the disease among kids.

If and when such cases are detected, the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit (OUCRU) would gather information and samples to perform tests and look for a cause, including pathogens like adenoviruses, the department said.

Adenoviruses are a group of common viruses that infect the lining of eyes, airways and lungs, intestines, urinary tract, and nervous system. They’re common causes of fever, coughs, sore throats, diarrhea, and pink eye.

The General Department of Preventive Medicine had earlier requested the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology and the Pasteur Institute to watch out for the mysterious disease and prepare measures to limit the numbers of infections and deaths.

Infants, children aged below one and high-risk groups need to be vaccinated against hepatitis B as a preventive measure, it added.

Vietnam has not recorded any case of the acute hepatitis of unknown origin so far, but the health ministry said it cannot exclude the possibility that the disease is already present in the country.

The mysterious disease was first detected in England and Scotland in early April, with about 70 kids aged between one month and 16 years old getting infected. Most of the infected were children aged below five.

The disease was later detected in 20 other countries in several regions. In Southeast Asia, Indonesia’s health ministry said three children in the country have died from the mysterious condition, The Guardian reported. At least 228 probable cases of child hepatitis have been found globally, WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said Tuesday at a Geneva press briefing, Reuters reported.

Symptoms of the disease include dark urine, yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice), fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, light-colored stools and joint pain.

The WHO has not called for any travel or commercial restrictions on countries where the condition has been detected.

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