|A suspected case is treating at Phuong Son District Medical Centre. The Health Ministry urges the Quang Nam Health Department to take drastic measures to control a diphtheria outbreak in the district. — VNA/VNS Photo Do Truong
HA NOI (VNS)— The health ministry's Preventive Medicine Department has asked the Quang Nam Health Department to take drastic measures to control a diphtheria outbreak in Phuoc Loc Commune in Phuoc Son District.
Between June 30 and July 15, 13 local residents aged one to 45 years reported diphtheria symptoms, such as high fever and a swollen and painful throat, the department said.
Three residents died of diphtheria between July 7 and 12. Ten others are receiving treatment at the district's medical centre, and their condition is improving, accordig to the department's director, Tran Dac Phu.
Most of the diphtheria patients, who are residents of hamlets 8A and 8B of Phuoc Loc Commune, had had direct contact with other diphtheria patients or had not been vaccinated against the contagious disease, Phu said.
The provincial health department has been urged to keep a close watch to detect diphtheria cases early and to collect samples from those having direct contact with diphtheria patients or suspected cases.
Immediate measures should be taken to end the outbreak by quarantining and treating patients so that cases of infection and death are minimised, he said.
It has been suggested that the provincial health department work with the Nha Trang Pasteur Institute to hold a campaign to vaccinate residents against diphtheria in the area affected by the outbreak.
An education and communication campaign to provide information on diphtheria and its prevention to the community should be strengthened, Phu said.
The Quang Nam health department's director, Nguyen Van Hai, said the province was determined to curb fatalities from the disease by carrying out regular inspections, launching intensive treatment for the current patients and educating residents on diphtheria and basic hygienic practices.
The provincial health department sent a working group to inspect the commune and collect samples. Only one of the eight samples collected tested positive for the diphtheria bacterium.
Phuoc Loc Commune is home to 23,635 people, 70 per cent of whom belong to the Bh'noong ethnic minority group and still subsist on nomadic farming and have little access to health services.
According to a team of medical experts and doctors located at the commune to provide strict control of the situation, the two villages were believed to have been where the diseases originated from.
"We have sent a team of doctors and medical staff to take control of the treatment of the disease in the two villages and surrounding areas. We sprayed chemical throughout all households and the nearby environment," Hai said.
"We also gave vaccinations to all residents of Phuoc Loc commune and kept examination records of all cases to assure no additional deaths would occur in the commune."
Medical experts from the department and Nha Trang Pasteur Institute said the disease could be spread through communication and touching.
They said patients would recover if they receive timely treatment at medical centres under the supervision of doctors. — VNS