Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — More than 100 patients from southern provinces diagnosed with tetanus have been treated at the HCM City Hospital for Tropical Diseases since the beginning of the year, an increase of 50 per cent compared to the same period last year.
Of the total, 25 patients on Thursday were admitted to the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU) for adults and put on a ventilator.
Dr Dương Bích Thủy, the ICU’s deputy head, told Việt Nam News Agency that many people were unaware of the importance of having a tetanus vaccine after a puncture wound, especially after stepping on a rusty nail.
Many patients with such wounds do not come to medical facilities for treatment, Thủy said, adding that they often use herbs which can lead to severe infection and tetanus bacteria entering the body.
A 52-year-old patient from HCM City, for example, was admitted after treating himself with herbs, Thủy said.
And a 62-year-old man from Củ Chi District who stepped on a rusty nail thought that he did not need treatment. Two weeks later, he was brought to the hospital with a severe infection with spasms and stiffness in his jaw muscles. He also had difficulty swallowing and speaking, and experienced convulsions.
On April 12, he entered into a coma and was put on a ventilator at the ICU.
According to Dr Thủy seniors with chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure have weak immune systems and are more vulnerable to tetanus bacteria.
If patients with tetanus are not treated in time, the disease can cause breathing difficulties and can even lead to cardiac arrest or death.
In addition, patients who are transferred from province-level hospitals in the southern region without proper care on the way are also vulnerable.
A 59-year-old patient from the Mekong Delta province of Vĩnh Long who was transferred from Cần Thơ General Hospital stopped breathing because there was no nurse in the ambulance.
Dr Thủy said that it was essential to have a nurse or doctor stay in the ambulance because tetanus symptoms can become worse during the trip.
Dr Nguyễn Thanh Phong, head of the hospital’s Department D for infectious diseases, said the cost for one patient ranges from dozens of million đồng to more than VNĐ100 million (US$4,385) for two or four weeks of treatment.
Each vaccine dose costs VNĐ200,000 to VNĐ300,000.—VNS