HA NOI (VNS)— The risk of a possible rabies outbreak will remain high if measures are not taken to control the disease, said experts from the Ministry of Health.
According to the ministry, the disease had spread throughout Ha Noi and many northern provinces in the region. By Thursday of last week, more than 300 people in Ha Noi's Soc Son District had been bitten by infectious dogs and cats.
In the district's Bac Son Commune, nearly 100 people had been bitten.
The district's Medical Station has set up four teams of inspectors to monitor the disease, while the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE) confirmed that four samples from captured dogs had tested positive for the virus.
Meanwhile, bite victims in the district were not believed to have contracted the virus from the animals.
In the northern province of Thai Nguyen, more than 80 people were bitten by animals suspected to be carrying the virus in the past two months, while in Yen Bai Province, more than 2,500 people were bitten by suspected rabid dogs in the first four months of this year with five fatalities.
Statistics from the Ministry of Health showed more than 175,000 people had received the rabies vaccine after being bitten by rabid dogs and cats in the first eight months this year, while nearly 70 died due to not being vaccinated.
According to ministry experts, the number of rabid dogs was growing rapidly due to poor management and a high number of unvaccinated dogs being left to wander in the provinces.
Director of the NIHE Nguyen Tran Hien said that most of the dogs tested positive for the virus, suggesting high growth in the virus' proliferation.
The death toll from the virus has increased rapidly in Asia since the year 2000, particularly in China. By 2007 virus related fatalities in China had jumped 16 times the level reported in 1995.
"The dog trade and the transporting of dogs over the borders has also enabled the disease to spread," he said.
Hien also said there was low awareness of the disease and a poor understanding of prevention leading to a high transmission, he said.
Nguyen Trung Cap, deputy head of the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases' Emergency Ward, said most fatalities were caused by people ignoring the need to receive the vaccine.
Cap said people bitten by rabid dogs and cats could show symptoms even up to months or years after being bitten.
When the patient shows symptoms such as being afraid of water, wind, lethargy and has difficult breathing, they cannot be cured, according to Cap.
People bitten by dogs or cats should wash their injuries under the tap for 10-15 minutes before washing their hands with antiseptic substances such as alcohol, soap.
They should also immediately visit medical stations for a consultation on receiving the vaccine, Cap said. — VNS