|Though VN reports no cases of bubonic plague in last 12 years, MoH still puts a high alert of possible spreading of the disease. — Photo katu.com
HA NOI (VNS) — Bubonic plague, which has killed at least 40 people in Madagascar and one in neighbouring China, could find its way into Viet Nam unless preventive measures were taken, according to the Ministry of Health.
No cases of bubonic plague had been recorded in Viet Nam in the past 12 years, but there was still a high risk of the disease spreading to the country, said head of the ministry's Preventive Medicine Department, Tran Dac Phu, at a meeting held last week on bubonic plague prevention and control.
Viet Nam shared a long border with a number of countries that used to be affected by the disease, particularly China, which had recorded one death and outbreaks among wild animals, he said.
Rodents and fleas could carry the virus from China into Viet Nam as they did in the late 19th and early 20th century, he said. The epidemic was first recorded in Viet Nam in 1898 in the central coastal province of Khanh Hoa after being spread by ships from Hong Kong.
He added that sanitation and environmental conditions in Viet Nam also made it easy for the disease to spread in the country.
Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long instructed localities to set up inspections to prevent the disease from entering the country, particularly localities with sea ports such as Da Nang and Hai Phong, as well as airports and border gates.
The ministry has sent urgent dispatches to relevant ministries, agencies and provincial and municipal People's Committee asking them to take measures to prevent bubonic plague.
The Ministry of Transport was been urged to tell those entering Viet Nam from plague-hit countries to inform agencies about the hygienic conditions of their vehicles and the appearance of rats and fleas.
The Health Ministry has also asked health departments in provinces and cities to instruct quarantine agencies to increase inspections of goods on vehicles returning from plague-stricken areas.
Members of the public are encouraged to inform relevant agencies if they discover rats dying en mass so they can be tested. — VNS