Vietnam’s dengue fever outbreak: 50,000 infected and counting

Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long (wearing blue) visits a dengue fever patient at the Hospital of Tropical Diseases in Ho Chi Minh City. - Tuoi Tre

Nearly 50,000 cases of dengue fever have been detected across Vietnam so far in 2017, with Ho Chi Minh City reporting the highest number of patients diagnosed with the disease.

The alarming numbers were announced at a meeting on dengue fever prevention on Thursday at the Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City, chaired by the Ministry of Health.

According to Tran Dac Phu, director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Preventive Medicine, 49,209 cases of dengue fever have been recorded at hospitals across the nation since the beginning of this year, up 9.7 percent from the same period in 2016.

Ho Chi Minh City has logged the highest number of hospitalizations due to the mosquito-borne disease nationwide, at 9,536 cases, Phu said.

These numbers rise on a weekly basis, he noted, explaining that the country is at the height of the dengue fever epidemic.

The southern metropolis together with neighboring provinces Dong Nai and Binh Duong boast the highest number of dengue fever infections in southern Vietnam, according to Assoc. Prof. Dr. Phan Trong Lan, director of the Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City.

Together, those three localities account for nearly 50 percent of all dengue patients admitted to hospitals across the southern region, Lan said.

The director added that the mosquito-borne disease is common in areas with increased urbanization and industrialization, putting Vietnamese adults in these areas at a greater risk of contracting the illness than in the past.

The trend can be explained by better access to transportation in industrialized areas, meaning citizens are more capable of moving in and out of areas with dengue fever outbreaks.

In 1999, adults accounted for 18 percent of dengue fever patients across Vietnam. That number has since risen to 47 percent, Lan pointed out.

In the dynamic metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City, the adult-to-child ratio in dengue infection is 65-35, Lan said.

According to Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long, the dengue fever outbreak in Vietnam is forecast to spread over the coming months and is not expected to improve until September.

Negligence from local authorities in taking measures to prevent dengue fever may have played a role in this year’s early outbreak of the disease, Long asserted.

“Dengue fever can’t exist without mosquitoes,” stressed Dr. Nguyen Van Kinh, director of the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases in Hanoi.

Kinh advised that residents take measures to keep mosquitoes from breeding in their homes by covering or removing stagnant water around their houses and destroying their larvae. – Tuoi Tre News

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