LAI CHAU — Around 40 people were confirmed to have come in contact with anthrax, a disease commonly spread by animals, over the past two months in Tuan Giao and Than Uyen districts of the northern mountainous provinces of Dien Bien and Lai Chau.
Anthrax is an acute infectious disease caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis.
One 40-year-old slaughterer from Than Uyen District was taken to the local health centre after slaughtering a buffalo suspected to be infected with anthrax. He died one day later.
His symptoms included a skin infection of small, raised bumps that itched like insect or spider bites and subsequently developed into fluid-filled blisters. The blisters had black centres of tissue (eschar) with surrounding redness and swelling.
Nguyen Cong Huan, director of the Lai Chau Province's Health Department said Than Uyen District has been known as an anthrax epidemic area in previous years.
To stop the spread of the epidemic, the department sent authorised teams to spray chemicals and inform local residents of prevention methods, Huan said.
"It is hard to destroy the bacterium. Because it must be buried under ground, it takes tens of years to destroy," he said.
Apart from Lai Chau and Dien Bien provinces, Thanh Hoa and Ha Giang provinces once reported cases of anthrax, according to the Ha Noi-based National Hospital of Tropical Diseases.
The hospital's deputy head of Emergency Department, Nguyen Trung Cap said that it is difficult to eradicate the disease in Viet Nam due to its tropical monsoon climate.
Negligence of author-ised agencies and local residents' lack of knowledge of the dangers of anthrax pose the potential risk of re-outbreak, Cap said.
People can die in less than three days if they do not receive prompt treatments, he said.
Cap said that anthrax can be spread in three ways: skin contact with anthrax spores, such as from infected animals or animal products including hair, wool, or hides; inhaling anthrax spores; and eating contaminated, undercooked meat.
People are advised to quickly go to the nearest health centres if finding any symptoms of the anthrax. — VNS