HCM City braces for dengue outbreaks as cases rise

May 27, 2022 - 08:36

The HCM City health sector says it will take drastic measures to tackle possible dengue fever outbreaks, especially to reduce the number of severe cases and deaths.


A child with dengue fever at the HCM City Children’s Hospital. — VNA/VNS Photo

HCM CITY — The HCM City health sector says it will take drastic measures to tackle possible dengue fever outbreaks, especially to reduce the number of severe cases and deaths.

The HCM City Centre for Disease Control (HCDC) said the city has recorded a surge in dengue cases among children with a high rate of severity due to a delay in hospital admissions and improper or late treatment at home.

The city has carried out a campaign since May 15 to mark the 12th ASEAN Dengue Day (June 15) to raise public awareness of the disease and precautions that need to be taken. 

It is calling on each individual to take simple measures like cleaning water containers, changing water in bottles, vases and tanks, and keeping the house tidy. 

Doctors said initial symptoms of dengue fever are quite similar to some viral infections and have warned that the onset of the disease can sometimes be the same as that of COVID-19. 

Many parents have mistaken the symptoms of the disease for COVID-19, leaving their children untreated or treated improperly, they added.

Nguyễn Đình Qui, deputy head of Infection Department of Children’s Hospital No 2, said the number of children with severe dengue had surged compared to the same period of last year.

The rate of dengue in children had increased 2-2.5 times. Notably, severe cases accounted for about 10-15 per cent of the total. Severe cases were mostly of children between five and 14 years old.

Severe cases could cause multi-organ damage and require mechanical ventilation and dialysis, he said.

Statistics compiled by the HCDC showed that HCM City recorded 8,481 dengue cases in the first four months, up 28 per cent year-on-year. 

The city has reported seven deaths, mostly due to late hospitalisations, since the beginning of 2022, according to HCDC.

In the dengue outbreak of 2019, the city reported more than 20,000 cases, but there was only 38 severe cases.

Explaining the surge in the disease, Trương Hữu Khanh, head of the Infectious Diseases Department at the HCM City-based Nhi Đồng I Hospital, said that the dengue epidemic normally occurred every four to five years, and 2022 was expected to be an outbreak year.

The rainy season has arrived early in the city and its neighbouring provinces, helping mosquitoes breed and heightening the risk of dengue fever outbreaks, he noted.

Doctors have warned that parents needed to recognise typical dengue symptoms such as high fever, petechiae, bleeding gums, nosebleeds, bruises and vaginal bleeding. 

The disease tends to worsen on the fourth to the sixth day of illness with cardiovascular collapse, respiratory diseases and diarrhoea.

Uptick in another disease

In a related development, hospitals in HCM City have also recorded a surge in hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) cases recently.

Dr Nguyễn Minh Tiến, deputy director of the HCM City Paediatrics Hospital, said 50-70 patients come to his hospital every day with the infection, and 10 per cent are admitted for treatment. Most have mild symptoms and are being treated at home.

The number of cases has been on the rise since the beginning of this month, he said.

HFMD symptoms are similar to that of dengue and COVID-19 for the first three days, and the disease is often mistaken for dengue, Tiến said.

Many children are also contracting two of the three diseases at the same time.

In the first four months, the city recorded 2,562 cases of HFMD, 96 per cent of them children aged one to five.

From May 13-19, the city recorded 882 cases of HFMD, double the average of the previous four weeks. — VNS